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There are many 'definitive' recipes for Bolognese; some of them more and some of them less authentic. The key to success lies as much in long, slow cooking as in the ingredients themselves. Serve with pasta or gnocchi and lots of grated Parmesan. Although it takes a while to cook, this is a dish that freezes and re-heats very well for weeknight dinners, so make a double batch while you're at it.

Ingredients

  • Knob of butter
  • 1 onion or 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 150g bacon, finely diced
  • 1-2 carrots, grated or finely diced
  • 1-2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 250g minced beef (for a lighter taste substitute 100g minced pork)
  • 40g chicken liver, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 150ml milk or a large dollop of cream
  • 150ml white wine
  • 400ml tin tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 130°C/Gas ½. Gently melt butter in an ovenproof heavy-bottomed pan, add the onion and bacon and cook for about 5 minutes, until onion is softened.
  2. Add the carrot and celery and sweat for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the mince into the pan, breaking up any lumps. Brown, season, then stir in the liver and cook for 5 minutes more.
  4. Add the thyme, pour in the milk and simmer gently until almost evaporated. Pour in the wine and tomatoes then put the pan in the oven with the lid slightly open.
  5. Cook slowly for at least 3 hours (more if possible), adding a touch of water if it looks like drying out. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.
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