After watching the spaghetti bolognese episode from Heston Blumenthal’s “In Search of Perfection”, I had the luxury of a day at home and basically tried to replicate the 8 hour long recipe. Most slow cooking is actually very simple, just allowing time to do the job of bringing out all the wonderful flavours of the ingredients.
This recipe has you actually cooking for probably half that time. In search of Heston has the entire step by step process in wonderful detail – go and check it out.
If you wanted a traditional bolognese sauce, then this isn’t it. However, you do end up with seriously, the most perfect meat ragu. All those steps give you a rich, complex, utterly delicious ragu. This is probably the only Heston recipe that I would follow end to end simply because there are no special ingredients or tools required. Would I do it again ? Probably not – it’s just too time consuming and fiddly, but there are a few processes that I’d borrow the next time I’m making my own bolognese sauce.
What would I borrow ?
1) I already use a mix of beef and pork but I do like that the pork and beef are hand cut – the long slow process of cooking allows the meat to render all the fat and become wonderfully tender and I think it makes for a more unctuous sauce
2) Adding star anise to the frying onions. Not more than 2 small stars, or it will end up overpowering the meat, but it’s the chemical reaction of the star anise and caramelising onions that brings out a compound that enhances the meat flavour
3) Using fish sauce as one of the seasoning ingredients. It does add a wonderful depth and umami to the dish
4) Making the tomato compote and frying the tomatoes before adding it to the meat casserole I think intensified the flavour of the tomatoes (although I’d probably cheat and just use tinned tomatoes as I hate skinning and deseeding tomatoes)