Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I am not a one pot wonder. However, let’s face it, making everything in the one pot is possibly the most convenient way of cooking, especially if you’re strapped for time. I happen to be nursing a sick hubbie – he’s got a cold:( and that surely calls for something familiar and comforting. Something like a good old Spaghetti Bolognaise.
Before everyone rolls their eyes I will be the first to acknowledge that it’s not a necessarily exciting dish and everyone has their own particular recipe that they’ve been using for years and swear by. I mean, it is one of the most popular weekday staples in the UK and whilst I wouldn’t say we ourselves have it once a week, it is certainly a frequent player. I also hasten to add that my Ragu recipe is a very different beast to this with a depth of flavour only achieved with the addition of chicken livers and hours of slow barely simmering on the stove. To me a Spag Bol is a quick and easy meal that covers all of my favourite food stuffs, the main one being spaghetti. Yes, that’s right, spaghetti may be my all time favourite food. I could eat it till it’s coming out of my ears but none of that awful wholewheat nonsense that seems to crumble in your mouth, thankyou.
This is such a versatile recipe though, you can adapt it according to what’s in your cupboard or fridge. By that I mean, you could add some worcester sauce, a splash of balsamic, – a cheats way of achieving that richness gained from hours of simmering – a chilli or two if you’re in need of heat or perhaps throw in whatever appropriate herbs happen to be lurking around, fresh or otherwise. So whilst this is my recipe for Spag Bol, I don’t by any means religiously make it this way.
6/7 closed cup mushrooms (optional)
3 cloves garlic
250g minced beef
400g can chopped tomatoes
tablespoon tomato puree
tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Finely chop the onion, carrot and garlic – I only have a garlic crusher in Chicago but have grown to love finely mincing my garlic by hand. Heat the butter and oil in a pan (yep, it’s the frying pan again but I have made it in a pot) and add the onion and carrot along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it gently simmer on a medium heat and do not allow to colour. After it has softened a little toss in the garlic, stir and leave for a few minutes, again without allowing it to colour.
During this time you can slice the mushrooms or not if you’ve decided leave them out – I often don’t include them myself but I do like them.
Add beef to pan and allow to brown with carrot and onion. I know some people take the onion/carrot out before doing this. I don’t. Let it colour and ensure there is no pink before adding the tomato puree. Stir thoroughly and then add the canned tomatoes, sugar, seasoning and balsamic. Stir once more and leave to simmer on a low heat. I fill the empty can with water and occasionally add if the sauce looks like it’s getting dry. Again, it’s personal preference but I like it to be quite saucy! Taste, taste, taste and season, season, season.
For the spaghetti bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for a maximum of 10 mins depending on thickness of pasta (i.e. if it’s angelhair it’ll take less time). I would taste at 8mins to be on the safe side because overcooked pasta is a crime:) What I do for serving some might find unusual but I really dislike bolognaise sauce dumped on top of coagulated pasta so I mix it (or perhaps coax is a better word) through the spaghetti and I assure you once you do it this way you’ll never go back. Oh yes and don’t forget a grating of parmesan or failing that mature cheddar will suffice.