This is a recipe for those days where you crave something warm and comforting, but don’t fancy spending more than 30 minutes cooking. It’s an absolute screamer of a dish, with very little food prep.
Background to the Quick Bolognese
It took me exactly 30 minutes to cook on a late Saturday evening at a friends house after being out for about 6 hours. I promise him I’d whip up something utterly divine at the start of the day, but by the end of the day I was completely regretting it. All he had in the fridge at the time was some good quality butchers beef mince, some parmesan, salad leaves and a half full (or half empty if you’re that way inclined) bottle of Red Wine amongst many condiments. I have a recipe for a Bolognese sauce that blows almost any other I’ve ever had out of the water -which I read about it in a times news paper many moons ago now. Anyway, that recipe is for another day, this a quick and easy take on the Ultimate Bolognese, but cuts the cooking and prep time down phenomenally, without compromising on taste too much. I used whatever he had in stock at the time and went from there. Since then I decided to develop the recipe for this website, and I’m so glad I did – I absolutely love it.
Must Read: Important notes before making this dish to ensure speediness and deliciousness.
- Prepare: Preparation is key to making this in 30 minutes. Before you do anything pop the kettle on with a fresh full tank of water and get it boiled. Get your meat out of the fridge and let it sit on the side. Get your canned goods out. Get your bag pasta out and ready. Get your pasta pot and your main sauce pot out, as well as measuring jug and chopping board etc. Get all of the prep out of the way first before you start cooking. The first time you do this, it will probably take more than 30 minutes, but once you’re comfortable with this recipe it’s easily 30 minutes.
- Pans: One big pan for the pasta and one big pan for the meat sauce. This is all you need to cook the dish – the coupled with a chopping board, a measuring jug, colander, wooden spoon and a nice good quality sharp knife is all the washing up you’ll have.
- Meat: You want 50/50 pork and beef mince. You want the beef mince to have at LEAST 10% fat, fat means flavour. Ensure the meat is well browned before you add anything. We want it nice and brown, almost crispy. This develops a rich and deep flavour to the sauce. What ever you do, don’t over crowd the pan, or you’ll end up steaming the meat. Do it in a couple batches if you need, it’s that important. If you only have beef, or pork mince in the fridge you can use that, but it will not taste the same. Beef & Pork together hits different.
- Stages: Follow the stages in the recipe card below and you’ll do well. Each stage is there for a reason – to develop flavour at its best. Do these in order and your taste buds will be thankful.
- Serving: A step most people overlook. First, don’t serve on a plate. Serve in a nice big bowl, you want to catch all that sauce. Secondly, before plating use the empty pasta pot (it’s empty because you’ve drained the pasta in a colander) and put on a medium heat. Add a couple ladles of sauce to the pot and a good pinch of Parmigiano Reggiano. Let it bubble for a few seconds and combine the cheese well. Add in your portion of pasta, if you have a slotted spoon, about three spoons will do. Mix the pasta with the sauce in the pan, and mix it well. This is how you get all that meat into the shells. Top with fresh basil and more Parmigiano, then you’re good to go. It really does elevate the dish.
OK, enough talking. Let’s cook!
30 Minute Sun-Dried Tomato Bolognese with Conchiglie
- Large Sauce Pan
- Cast Iron Casserole Dish (Or Large Sauce Pan)
- Wooden Spoon
- Measuring Jug
- Chopping Board
- Sharp Knife
- 250 g Beef Mince at least 10% fat conent
- 250 g Pork Mince
- 125 ml Red Wine
- 190 g Sun-Dried Tomato Paste buy the best you can, Sacla is very good. Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto works too.
- 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic finely chop with a sharp knife
- 500 g Dried Conchiglie
- 60 g Parmigiano Reggiano Freshly grated, avoid buying pre-grated.
- 2 tbsp Table salt to salt the pasta water
- 1 tsp Flaked Sea Salt to salt the sauce
- 1 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper
- 500 ml Rich Beef Stock Pot 1 stock pot mixed in 500ml of boiled water, avoid the powdered stock.
- 2 tbsp Oil 1 for the meat, 1 for the garlic. Ground nut is good, Olive oil is fine – but not extra virgin.
- 400 g Can of good plum tomatoes, pushed through a food mill or sieve can substitute this for a can of chopped tomatoes or passata.
- 5/6 Leaves Fresh Basil, sliced. Optional, but worth it. Slice with one smooth motion. Do not slice through more than once.
- Boil the kettle. Chop the garlic. Grate the Parmesan. Get the Casserole dish on a medium-high heat ready for the meat. Prepare your stock in a measuring jug to 500ml. Get a large saucepan on a might heat full with water ready for pasta – cold water is fine as it will be boiling when we need it. This should take a maximum of 5 minutes.
- Brown the meat. In the casserole dish, once up to temperature (using a Halogen hob and it's on level 7 out of 9) add the 1 tbsp oil. Then tip in your meat (in batches if your pan is not big enough). Cook the meat on this high heat to brown well, until almost cripsy. After each batch, remove the meat and place in a bowl, pour a couple table spoons of water into the hot pan and scrape off the brown bits stuck to to bottom of the pan. Tip this water and scrapings into the browned meat bowl. Repat until all meat is cooked.
- Reduce the pan heat down a notch to medium (Halogen level 6). Add the oil to the pan and soften the garlic for about 30 seconds – if you see it browning remove the pan from the heat immediately. Add the meat and juice into the pan now.
- Add the red wine to the pan and crank up the heat to reduce it down to almost nothing. There should be no runny liquid, either a syrupy paste or completely dissolved into the meat.
- Add the full jar of tomato paste (or pesto if using). Stir into the meat and cook for a minute until the colour changes to a brick red. Now pour in the canned tomatoes (can sieve them right into the pan to save time). Stir well. Bring it to the boil.
- Add 500ml of stock to the tomato sauce, bring to the boil.
- Once your sauce has been brought to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and simmer on a medium high heat (Level 7 on a Halogen ob for reference). This recipe is about speed, for a normal bologense we would simmer low and slow. Here we want to cook it faster. From here you will want to stir occasioanly and make sure none of the meat catches on the bottom. Do not put a lid on the casseole dish as we want the liquid to reduce to a thick sauce. The sauce is finished when the consistency is no longer water like – it should pour, but not like water. If it's water like, keep it cooking until it's thicker (don't worry, it will get thicker).
- When you begin the simmering process get your pasta on. You should have a pan of water boiling already for the pasta. Salt this water with the table salt – 2 level tbsp. Stir the water. Now add pasta. Stir the pasta in the water. Cook according to packet instructions, it usually takes about 10 minutes. Ensure you taste a piece after 10 minutes, if it's al dente drain them. If not, let it cook for another minute, taste and repeat until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and let it sit until needed. Cover with a drizzle of olive oil or butter to keep from sticking.
- By now your pasta is cooked and drained, your sauce is thick and meaty, and you're ready to put the dish together. Put the pasta pan back on a meidum heat. Add two ladle's of sauce and add a good pinch of Parmigiano. Stir until combined and bubbling. Add your portion of pasta, roughly 1/4 of all that is cooked. Combine in the pan, on the heat. Mix thoroughly until all the meat is inside the shells and covered in sauce. Using the ladle, plate into a bowl. Top with more Parmigiano and a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves. Serve piping hot.
- For the beef & pork mince, try to use half a pack each. In the UK a pack is about 500g. If one pack is 500g and one pack is 400g that’s fine. Just use half and half, it won’t matter too much. Freeze the other half for the next time you want to cook this.
- The best tinned tomatoes to use are DOP San Marzano. No comparison really. If you can get them, do it. DOP is very important, it means they are authentic and produced to a set of standards.
- Butchers mince will always surpass supermarket mince. Your dish is only as good as your ingredients.
- Only use a wine to cook with that you would also drink. Do not buy a cheap wine to cook with. I have been using the Barefoot brand recently (not sponsored, as of Oct 2020) and it works really well. Less than £6 and it tastes good.