Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spaghetti Bolognese (Turkey)

A hearty and juicy meat sauce, ladled over spaghetti has comfort food written all over it. The perfectly soft cooked carrots and celery in the sauce add a whole new texture, flavor and warmth to this dish. 
Bolognese sauce known in Italian as - 'ragu alla bolognese', is a meat based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. The earliest documented recipe of ragu served with pasta comes from the 18th century Imola, near Bologna. Traditionally, Italian ragu is served with flat shaped or tube shaped pasta. But as I was introduced to this dish in Italian restaurants as 'Spaghetti Bolognese', spaghetti is my favorite pasta to go with this sauce.
There is plenty of room for creative interpretations of this recipe and that is apparent from the fact that every chef seems to have their very own variation. 
I have tried to put together the healthiest and easiest of the techniques and ingredient options and it has worked really well for us. Hope it works just as well for you.
Yes on going through the recipe, you might notice that it does take a long time to reach the perfect flavor, but trust me, it is a small sacrifice to achieve the most luscious meat sauce you have ever tasted!

Getting to the recipe..

Serves: 3 - 4 people
Level: Easy

1 lb (500 gms) minced meat - I used turkey
250 gms uncooked spaghetti
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 stick celery, roughly chopped
3 - 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp red chilly flakes
3/4 tsp dry basil
3/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilly powder/paprika
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes (14 - 16 oz)
1/2 can tomato puree (7 - 8 z)
1.5 cups water (or 1 cup water and 1/2 cup red wine)
1/2 tsp hot sauce - I used tobasco (optional)
2 tblsp parmigiano-reggiano cheese + some more while serving
3 - 4 fresh basil leaves + some more while serving
3 tblsp oil - I used olive oil
Salt to taste

Step 1 - Heat oil in a large wok. Add the onions and saute till they turn transparent. Add 6 - 8 garlic cloves and saute for 4 - 5 mins till they soften up. Do not brown the ingredients.

Step 2 - Add the minced meat and break it down well with your spoon to make sure there are no lumps. Saute for 3 - 4 mins. Add 1/2 cup of water or wine if using, salt, red chilly powder/paprika, dry basil leaves, black pepper powder, red chilly flakes and fresh thyme. Saute well till the meat turns brown.

Step 3 - Add the carrots, celery and mix well. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree and 1 cup of water. Cook covered on medium heat for 10 - 12 mins. stirring occasionally. After 10 - 12 mins, cook uncovered on medium low heat for another 35 - 40 mins till the sauce looks all glossy, due to the oil separating and the acidity of the tomatoes is gone. The sauce should not be too runny nor too thick. If you think the sauce is thickening too quickly, add a few more tblsps of water. But do not reduce your cooking time.

Step 4 - Add some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and some freshly chopped basil leaves. Add some hot sauce if you think you would enjoy a spicier version of the sauce. Your bolognese sauce is now ready!

Step 5 - Now let us get to the pasta. Cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the package till they are cooked al-dente (cook till firm but not hard).

Step 6 - Plate up the spaghetti in your serving dish. Ladle the saucy bolognese over the spaghetti. Grate some cheese and sprinkle some basil leaves on top. Serve hot or warm.

Transport yourself to Italy by enjoying this with a glass of red wine and some garlic bread. Watching 'The Italian Job' could very well enhance your experience!

Few things to remember before we start cooking this dish:
- Do not get fooled by the simple set of ingredients. This dish is not something you throw together quickly. We have to cook the meat for almost an hour till it absorbs all the flavors well. 
- My recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes and puree. I have tried this recipe with different types of fresh tomatoes and pastes. It just did not work for me. Moreover, cans make my life easier and the sauce brighter which is a huge bonus.
- Try and use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Makes a difference.
- You can replace turkey meat with beef or a combination of beef and pork, which I am sure will give this dish a better flavor. I do not generally do that as most of my friends and family do not consume beef. I have also tried this recipe using minced chicken, but I was quite disappointed with the outcome. So I would avoid it.


  1. Hi Shalmali,

    me tuza blogs varache update niyamit vachate. tu dilelya recipes ani tyanche photo khupach chan aahet.

    Moramba, Gulamba ani Aamboshichya lonachya khas "Shalmali touch " aslelya kruti pan post kar na

    1. Hya goshti nakki shikoon post kareen..:)