I fucking love food, I always get depressed when I meet someone who admits that the extent of their culinary skills is sticking a frozen chicken kiev in the oven. We’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where most ingredients are readily available; ignorance is not an excuse either – forget cooking classes, the best way to learn to cook is to know the basics and adapt them to your own personal taste.
At the very least, everyone should know how to make spaghetti bolognese from scratch and I mean the bastardized English version, not the authentic Italian one (which includes bacon, cream and weirdly, celery among other things). The tomato sauce is the easiest and most versatile thing ever (it seriously goes with everything) and the only other thing you need is minced beef and the actual spaghetti.
So, this is the recipe for killer spaghetti bolognese. Serves 2.
For the sauce:
- Tin of chopped tomatoes (or passata if you feel like being fancy)
- An onion
- 2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
- Smoked paprika
- Mixed herbs
- Tomato puree (optional, and not if you’re using passata)
For everything else:
- 400g minced beef
- Chorizo – only the best sausage EVER
- Olive oil
- Frying pan
- 2 saucepans
- Wine/prosecco/vodka/[insert booze here] to make the cooking process more fun
Pour some olive oil into the frying pan (just enough to make a tiny puddle in the middle). Pre-heat the pan. Chuck the mince in and brown on a medium heat. You might need to drain the mince, especially if you’re using the relatively cheap stuff. By the time you mix the mince with the sauce, there shouldn’t be any liquid in the frying pan!
While the mince is browning, drain the chopped tomatoes and empty into a saucepan. Or open the packet of passata and pour that in if you’re being fancy. Add a handful of herbs and smoked paprika to taste (start off with two teaspoons if you’re a recent paprika convert). Mix it all up. Don’t turn the heat on yet. Pour the wine.
Chop up the onion and the garlic (use a garlic crusher if you find that easier, mine is shit so I’ve gotten quite good at chopping garlic out of necessity). Chuck the garlic in the pan of tomato sauce. Now turn the heat on. Drink some wine.
Transfer the mince to the saucepan and brown the onions in the frying pan. Try not to drop half of the mince onto the cooker like I did… or drop it and call it ‘cooking with flair’ – like I did. Top up your wine glass with some more wine.
I like onions quite caramelised but you can brown them to whatever extent you want:
Chop up the chorizo if using (I normally use about a quarter of the Tesco sausage) and add to the saucepan. Drink some wine.
IGNORE IF USING PASSATA. Add tomato puree to the saucepan. My mum dilutes hers in water before adding but I think it makes the sauce too runny so I just squeeze some out onto the wooden spoon and mix it in. The juices from the meat/tomatoes will dilute it anyway.
Add the onions to the saucepan. You should now have a hot mess that looks a little bit like this. Taste it and if it’s a bit plain then put in some more tomato puree/herbs/paprika.
Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes on a low heat (my mum puts a lid on, I don’t) and cook the spaghetti – remember to only put it in the pan when the water is boiling, put a drop of oil in to make sure it doesn’t stick together, blah blah. Drink some wine in the meantime.
Drain spaghetti, transfer everything onto plates and pour some more wine. Voila:
Sprinkle parmesan over the top (yes, it smells like feet but it tastes awesome SO GET USED TO IT) and enjoy.
As an aside, that tomato sauce base (chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, paprika and mixed herbs) doesn’t just make bolognese sauce; it’s great for everything from pasta to a chicken casserole. Just don’t drop any on yourself because it’s a bastard to wash out of clothes.
The ingredient quantities aren’t regimental; if you find the sauce too thick, don’t drain the tomatoes. If it’s not hot enough, add some chillies. If it’s too garlicky, leave out the cloves next time. Add peppers or aubergine; do whatever the fuck you want with it. Heston does some pretty weird food combinations and everyone thinks he’s a genius.
So there you go, spaghetti bolognese. How do you make yours?