Bolognese sauce in our household was always quite different to what most would consider classic bolognese, which would typically be made with beef and pork. Our sauce would nearly always contain some lamb due to the abundant supply in our freezer. The mince from our own lamb was usually quite fatty and, when mixed in equal parts with lean beef mince, gave a lovely depth of flavour and body to the sauce. It always tasted fantastic; ladled onto a mountain of spaghetti with handfuls of grated parmesan I would devour it with gusto.
Lamb bolognese is almost unheard of, which is a shame because it’s so delicious! In my view this is tastier than the classic beef bolognese and I bet that many would agree. Saying that, the recipe I’ve made here is not a plain spag-bol but a modified version, or upgraded, I should say. I made it a little bit creamier than usual, and added extra garlic. A good pile of baby spinach is thrown in and wilted down to tangle with the spaghetti as everything is mixed together. Parmesan cheese is mixed in, along with a splash of the salted starchy pasta water and finally some cherry tomatoes at the very last just to warm through gently. The final sauce is really rich and creamy, with the spinach and tomatoes giving a juiciness that stands up to the strong flavoured lamb.
- 500 g lamb mince
- 3 rashers smoked streaky bacon
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 250 ml red wine
- 50 g tomato purée
- 1 litre lamb stock, or chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 50 ml double cream
- 100 g baby spinach leaves
- 100 g parmesan
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 400 g dried spaghetti
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Cut the bacon into 5mm dice and in a large, wide-based pan, fry in olive oil until golden and crisp. Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan, turning the heat down. Dice the celery and carrot into 5mm dice and add to the pan. Pick the leaves from the sprigs of thyme and add to the pan along with the chilli flakes. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lamb mince, red wine, tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 1.5 hours, or until the lamb is tender and the sauce reduced and thick.
Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add the cream and spinach to the bolognese and stir until all the spinach has wilted. Add the parmesan and mix thoroughly to melt the cheese and emulsify it into the sauce. The sauce should now be thick and creamy. Half the cherry tomatoes and have them ready. When the pasta is done, drain in a colander, reserving the starchy liquid. Add the pasta along with the cherry tomatoes into the sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or parmesan if needed. Serve immediately