This is my Super-Duper Sneaky Bolognese. A pimped version of the comforting classic my mum used to make for me when I was a kid that I’ve adapted over the years to become a simple and incredibly nutrient-dense family favourite of ours.
“Super” because there are plenty of hidden vegetables and “Duper” because it contains the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, organ meat (offal). Organ meats are nature’s multi-vitamins and in general are 10-100x higher in nutrients than muscle meats. Packed with vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folate as well as minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper, healthy fats and amino acids which are essential for healthy growth and development. “Sneaky” because it just tastes like a deliciously rich and hearty beef and tomato sauce that the whole family will love.
MEAT & ORGAN MEAT
Choosing the right meat is important, especially when it comes to feeding it to our children. Good meat comes from animals that have been ethically raised, pasture fed and finished or who ate biologically appropriate diets and are free from antibiotics and hormones – this means organic or biodynamic. Buy direct from farmers at your local markets or speak to your butcher, ask questions about the paddock-to-plate journey of your meat, so you know exactly what you’re buying. Pesticides and hormones are stored in fat, and the fat of organ meats, so its particularly important that any offal your children eat is organic.
Liver is considered one of the most important foods for young children in many traditional cultures, rich in fat-soluble vitamins A (vision, bone growth, immune function) and D (bone and teeth growth, immune function) and essential fatty-acids (brain growth and development and vision). Beef heart is high in CoQ10, an enzyme involved in the production of energy in our cells that also serves as a potent antioxidant to protect against free-radical damage.
I buy an organic beef and heart mince mix (70% beef, 30% heart) and organic chicken livers from Shiralee Organic Meats – a local butcher on Sydney’s northern beaches that specialises in meat that is biodynamic, organic and free range with no antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones. They also make a range of organic beef and chicken sausages with offal – it’s great to see butchers offering products that make for a delicious and easy introduction to offal into our diets.
The Environmental Working Group features celery and tomatoes on their “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticides, so purchase them organic if you can.
I use a Thermomix to blitz my vegetables into an almost-purée form and you could do the same with your kitchen whiz or a grater. The herbs add depth of flavour and a low slow cook in tomato passata brings it all together to create a rich sauce. If your kids eat peas, then add peas… if they eat corn, then add corn… if they eat lentils, then add lentils… you see where I’m going, this is a base sauce you can keep adding to or leave as is.
At this point, after pouring over pasta or zoodles, I’d usually garnish with a load of chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkling of cheese but tonight the parsley bush was bare and my littler kitchen helpers were decidedly heavy-handed with the cheese.
This recipe is one from my “Batch Cook” files and I find this bulk cook makes enough for 3 family meals, depending on if there are 3 or 5 of us at the table (Otis will often consume an adult serving of this). We eat one meal and freeze the rest in glass containers for up to 3-months. Oh and it tastes even better the next day, so you can make it the night before.
SUPER-DUPER SNEAKY BOLOGNESE
SERVES: 8 – PREP TIME: 1 HR – COOK TIME: 1 HR
- 500g organic beef and heart mince
- 500g organic pork mince
- 200g organic chicken livers
- 2 large carrots (unpeeled if organic), chopped into large chunks
- 2 large organic celery sticks, chopped into large chunks
- 2 large zucchini, chopped in to large chunks
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 star anise *optional (a tip I picked up from Apples Under My Bed and it does take the flavour to another level)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1x jars 800ml organic tomato passata
- Raw milk hard cheese, grated, to serve
- Parsley, chopped, to serve *optional
- Sea salt
- Ghee or tallow
- Remove any connective tissue and veins from the livers. Place in a bowl, cover with filtered water and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Allow to soak for 1-hour to remove the impurities
- Drain the livers and pat dry, then chop into very small pieces and add to your mince
- Combine carrot, zucchini, celery, onion and garlic in your chosen food processor and blitz until they’re whatever consistency you might need to make the vegetables undetectable, mine usually end up almost like grains of cous cous
- Heat the ghee or tallow over low-medium heat in a large, heavy based saucepan. Once hot, add the vegetable mix with a pinch of salt and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Lower the heat if you need to avoid browning and use a wooden spoon to stir
- Add the mince meat and liver mix and turn the heat up high. Break up the meat with the wooden spoon until the meat is browned
- Add the passatta, bay leaf, star anise, oregano, thyme and another pinch of salt
- Once bubbling turn the heat down to the lowest heat and put the lid on. Cook for 1-hour
- Serve over your chosen pasta or vegetables noodles and top with parsley and as much cheese as you desire