Spaghetti Bolognese sauce is a really simple recipe that can be changed and adapted to suit your tastes, budget and what ingredients you’ve got to hand. One simple way to make a spaghetti bolognese sauce is to use a slow cooker – simply drop your raw ingredients into the slow cooker and walk away.
The same recipe can be used to make a spaghetti sauce in a saucepan if you wish, but ‘simple spaghetti bolognese sauce’ should, in my opinion, refer to the cooking method in its entirety.
What could be simpler than lifting a lid and chucking things into a pot, turning it on and walking away?
Once the sauce is made, you can just mix the sauce with some cooked pasta – either spaghetti, or any other shape/type of pasta you have! This is a versatile and simple meat sauce.
- 400-500 grams beef mince, it’s not that precise a measurement – you’ll be driven by the pack size you grab.
- 1 large onion (or 2-3 small onions), finely chopped, diced or even grated. You can use dehydrated onions if you wish, quantity to match.
- 2 cloves of garlic, or use a lazy garlic or even dried garlic.
- 100-125 grams of carrot, grated. You can use a (drained) tin of carrots, or frozen carrots.
- 2 large tins of tomatoes (400 gram tins), chopped, including the juice.
- 400-500ml of beef stock, either fresh, a Stock Pot, or a stock cube.
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pasta – to serve. Your choice how much pasta to use, but a rule of thumb is “the same weight of pasta as the meat was”
Slow Cooker Method:
- You can brown the mince and fry the onions/garlic if you wish.
- Add all the ingredients into your slow cooker, or crockpot. Put the lid on.
- Turn on high for one hour, then down to low and cook for a minimum of 6 hours. 6-10 hours will enable the flavours to develop.
- Cook your spaghetti in your usual way.
- Mix a quantity of the spaghetti sauce through your spaghetti and serve.
Brown the mince and onions in a large saucepan. Note: If you’re using a saucepan then you have to make sure the beef mince doesn’t stick to the bottom – use a little oil to get it going and don’t use full heat; keep the mince moving.
Add the garlic and mix through for 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, give it all a good stir. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the saucepan down to a simmer, with the lid on. Stir every 10-15 minutes. Cook slowly/gently for 50-60 minutes, until it’s thickened and tasty!
Adding the Spaghetti to the Slow Cooker:
Some people like to add the spaghetti to the slow cooker for the last 45-60 minutes of cooking time, so it soaks up all the flavours of the spaghetti sauce. This is optional and might depend on the size of your slow cooker!
Simply snap the spaghetti in half (to make it fit easier!) and drop it in, then gently push it under the top level of the liquid. You can tell when it’s cooked by tasting/testing it (cook’s benefits!).
You can put into your spaghetti bolognese sauce any other ingredients that you like – popular additions are chopped/grated celery or chopped mushrooms. I don’t like these ingredients so will typically leave them out! Other people will add in a glass or two of red wine, I don’t have wine in the house, so that’s another ingredient I’d omit. Add these optional extras at the start of the cooking process if you’re going to add them.
Also, to finish, there are some extras that many people suggest. Coffee or chocolate are popular suggestions. If this floats your boat, then give it a try – for me, I prefer to keep my food simple!
Can You Freeze Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce?
Yes. Spaghetti bolognese sauce is easy to freeze once you’ve cooked it. Leave it to cool completely then portion it up and put it into a freezer-proof container. Once frozen, it will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months – after this time it doesn’t turn dangerous, it simply starts to lose its flavour over time, probably unnoticeably for most people though! I’d certainly happily eat a frozen spaghetti bolognese that was a year old (or even more).
What Else Can You Do With Bolognese Sauce?
If you’ve made a batch of it, then this meat sauce is very flexible. You can serve it on top of rice, or noodles; you can add in some chilli and kidney beans and even call it “chilli beef” if you wish! It’s a very flexible sauce to make up quickly and eat as a baked potato topping, or even served simply with mashed potatoes and side vegetables of your choice. See bolognese sauce as simply “tasty meat in a sauce” and don’t feel you can only use it as spaghetti bolognese.
Twists and Alternatives:
Instead of using the mince as it is, you could roll the meat into small meatballs, to make spaghetti & meatballs in sauce instead! There’s no need to add anything extra if you simply want “chunkier meat” in your dish. What I’ll often do is simply run a knife through the mince before I drop it into the slow cooker, so it cooks up chunkier!
Remember: nobody’s judging you, you’re simply trying to create food to eat that YOU like!
Cheats Spaghetti Bolognese:
What I like about this recipe is that I can keep all the ingredients in the cupboard, then when I buy beef mince I know I’ve already got the rest without any effort. My cheats spaghetti bolognese uses tinned carrots, lazy garlic, a liquid stock pot and hydrated onions! And, for that extra “cooking cheats” method, I chuck the lot into the slow cooker!
The mince will typically cost under £2 (I usually pay £1.70). Two cans of tomatoes can cost as little as £0.31 each, so £0.62. Carrots and onions, fresh, are cheap, say £0.20 maximum. That just leaves the cost of the stock and garlic. In all, you should easily be able to make this – and serve 6 people – including spaghetti costs, for under £3. So that’s a 50p dinner!