60gpancettafinely sliced variety, then dice into small pieces
2celery sticksmedium sized, finely diced
1onionlarge white onion, finely diced
3tbsp Tomato puree
200ml red winemedium body
100mlmilkfull-fat or semi-skimmed
1beef stock cubecrumbled
2½tsporeganodried (use 1½ tsp if using fresh herbs)
2tspbasildried (use 1 tsp if using fresh herbs)
¼tspground black pepper
Start by making a soffrito by finely dicing the onion, carrot and celery and placing in a pan with the oil. Turn the heat to medium low and sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent (around 5 minutes). Next add the herbs and minced garlic and cook for a further 1 minute stirring through continuously. Pour all the vegetables into the slow cooker.
Sprinkle the corn flour, salt, pepper and sugar over the vegetables and mix well.
Return the pan to the stove and gently brown the beef mince over a medium heat. Fork the mince through to seperate the pieces and drain away any fat. Add the finely sliced and diced pancetta (allowing it to sit on the bottom of the pan so it has direct heat) and cook for a further minute until the pancetta turns pink. Add the meat to the slow cooker then pour over the milk and stir through.
Now pour the red wine into the pan in which the meat was cooked and turn the heat to medium. The wine will bubble allowing the alcohol to evaporate and then it will reduce to a darker syrup (around 2-4 minutes). Remove it from the heat.
Crumble the stock cube into the slow cooker then add the balsamic vinegar, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and red wine syrup. Stir everything well to combine the ingredients and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4 hours.
Serve with freshly cooked pasta.
A soffrito is a classic Italian cooking method used for making the base of a variety of sauces, it involves sauteing onion, celery and carrot in oil before adding other ingredients. This creates real depth of flavour in a dish. Ensure that the vegetables are very finely diced (pieces of ½ cm or less ideally) to get the best results and a smooth bolognese sauce.
Cornflour can be replaced with plain flour if required although reduce the quantity to 1 tbsp as wheat flours are heavier and less will be required to thicken the sauce.
Fork through the beef mince before cooking to break up any lumps of meat.
Use finely sliced pancetta if possible rather than the cubes as this will melt easily into the sauce and keep it smooth whilst getting the flavour of the cured pork.
Use good quality canned chopped tomatoes as they are a key part of the sauce, the finely chopped variety will help blend the ingredients together and create a smoother ragu.
Some canned tomatoes can have an acidic tang, even after slow cooking for hours, this can be mellowed by adding a little more sugar or a few tablespoons of milk.