In search of the perfect bolognese part 1.

So I love pasta, and spaghetti bolognese is up there with the best of the comfort foods. However, I’ve never actually cooked it from a recipe. I don’t know why, there’s just something in me says “no”. Apparently I am determined to find my own way there instead.

One of the ongoing challenges I encounter in this quest for the perfect bolognese is that the flavour of the beef gets lost in the sauce. Even when I’ve tried cooking the meat and sauce separately, the mince just gets lost. This time I tried something different. Inspired by my lamb kofta on the weekend I decided to take the meatball approach. I know, not a traditional bolognese, but I’m more interested in flavour at this stage.

I took a very basic approach to the meatballs, mixing 500 grams of lean beef mince with a finely chopped onion (well as finely as I can, my knife skills definitely need some work!), an egg and salt and pepper. I usually use Maldon sea salt when cooking, but this time chose to use table salt. Sea salts are larger, so need time to break down. Given this, I felt that I couldn’t be confident that the salt would distribute evenly throughout the mixture in the time that it took to combine it. From this I was able to form 20 meatballs. I left them in the fridge to chill for about an hour before cooking them in a frying pan. I tend to use cooking spray wherever possible. when you like food as much as I do, it’s best to keep the additional calories down wherever possible!

I made the sauce separately, and added the meatballs once the flavours of the sauce developed. I’m not going to put my sauce recipe up because quite frankly, at this stage I’m still cheating and using an italian dried herb mix. One of these days I will start experimenting and finding the right balance of fresh herbs. However, at this stage I’m focusing on the meat. One step at a time (thus “part 1.” in the title of this post). In addition to the meatballs I added some freshly roasted yellow pepper. Actually “roasted” is a misnomer in this case. I take the grilling over a gas flame approach rather than actually roasting the peppers. I also added some pan fried mushrooms. I’ve stopped using white mushrooms in my cooking, and generally use chestnut mushrooms unless another type is specified. I find that the chestnut mushroom has a much stronger flavour. The contrast between the dark exterior and the white interior can also bring an interesting aesthetic to the dish.

Overall, I was really happy with my meatballs. By frying them I retained the flavour of the meat while ensuring that the meatballs remained succulent. Maybe now it’s time to move onto experimenting with the sauce.


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