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Bolognese pasta bake – Recipe

Bolognese pasta bake

Bolognese sauce, is easy to make but takes time to cook. It cooks by itself and you have only to keep an occasional eye on it to prevent it from burning. Use it as part of a relaxed pasta bake.
For the bolognese
30g/1oz unsalted butter
4 tbsp olive oil
50g/1¾oz cubed pancetta
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
400g/14oz lean beef mince
2 tsp tomato purée
250ml/9fl oz red wine

1 bay leaf
300ml/10fl oz beef or chicken stock
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
400g/14oz penne
75g/2¾oz Parmesan, finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce
35g/1½oz butter
30g/1oz plain flour
350ml/12fl oz milk
75g/2¾oz Gruyère, grated
Recipe tips

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Throw in the pancetta and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring very frequently. Add the onion to the pan and fry until soft and golden.

Add the celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork or spoon, until browned all over.

Mix in the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine, add the bay leaf and boil for 2–3 minutes. Add the stock a little at a time, whenever there is no more liquid on the bottom of the pan. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour (or more if you can). Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over very low heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is just golden but not brown. Add the milk, a few tablespoons at a time, until it has been incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly bring the sauce to the boil, stirring all the time, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyère.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

Cook the penne in salted water for 2 minutes less than the packet instructions, or until it is almost done. Drain well.

Put the penne in a large gratin dish. Pour over the ragu and mix well. Cover it with the cheese sauce and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Serve.