Everyday Spag Bol

Everyday Spag Bol

There are so many recipes out there for Spaghetti Bolognese – everyone has got their own take on it. It is a dish that can be created very simply with a few ingredients (onion, garlic, mince and tinned tomatoes) or, at the other end of the spectrum, there are recipes that take this dish to the next level with diced chicken livers and veal mince. I’ve even followed recipes that involved roasting the mince on a baking tray to dry it out and increase the depth of flavour (Tom Kerridge I’m looking at you…).

There is a place for all of this, but this recipe is intended to be somewhere in the middle – a good, solid (but delicious) week night spag bol recipe using ingredients that you should be able to pick up fairly easily in just one shop. I also try and sneak as many hidden veggies in as possible to increase my daughter’s vegetable intake without her knowing (and objecting!). This serves the dual purpose of bulking out the meat, which means you need, and eat, less red meat per person. The vegetables that I tend to use do vary based on what is in the fridge and what needs using up, but they are usually along the lines of the recipe below. A great addition is the grated carrot (use the fine side of the grater). As it cooks, it pretty much dissolves into the sauce and you barely notice it is there, but it ups the veg content and adds a nice sweetness to the dish.

A quick note on stock – a proper homemade stock is almost always best, but its completely unrealistic to expect anyone to have a freezer full of the good stuff! You can buy good, fresh liquid stock from the chiller cabinets of most supermarkets and, failing that, there is nothing wrong with stock powder / cubes. Unless I have some good home-made stock stashed away in the fridge or freezer, then my go-to stock is a Knorr stock pot / concentrated liquid stock. You can dilute these with water to use as stock in the normal way, but I often just chuck them directly into soups/stews/curries/sauces, for an extra flavour boost.

This is a great recipe to make in bulk and stash in the freezer for those nights when you don’t have time to cook or don’t feel like cooking – I freeze small portions in little ramekins to reheat with cooked pasta for Audrey’s tea when I only have a few minutes to spare.

Spaghetti Bolognese

August 23, 2019
: 6
: 1

This is a great recipe to make in bulk and stash in the freezer for those nights when you don’t have time to cook or don’t feel like cooking – I freeze small portions in little ramekins to reheat with cooked pasta for Audrey’s tea when I only have a few minutes to spare.

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 700g minced beef
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 large field mushroom
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • Spring of rosemary (leaves picked and finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 concentrated beef stock pot or 1 beef stock cube or 500ml of liquid beef stock (see note on stock above)
  • Glass of red wine (only if you have some to hand, it’s not essential)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Take a large, relatively deep, heavy bottomed pan and put it on the hob over a low heat.
  • Step 2 Chop the smoked streaky bacon into thin strips/chunks, and tip them into the pan. Give them a good stir and turn up the heat slightly once the bacon starts to release some fat.

Serves 6

  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 700g minced beef
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2  medium sized onions
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 large field mushroom
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 400g tins of plum tomatoes 
  • Spring of rosemary (leaves picked and finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 concentrated beef stock pot or 1 beef stock cube or 500ml of liquid beef stock (see note on stock above)
  • Glass of red wine (only if you have some to hand, it’s not essential)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Take a large, relatively deep, heavy bottomed pan and put it on the hob over a low heat. Chop the smoked streaky bacon into thin strips/chunks, and tip them into the pan. Give them a good stir and turn up the heat slightly once the bacon starts to release some fat. 

Cook until crisp, then tip in all of the minced beef and turn up the heat. You want the mince to really brown and get a little crispy in places, not just to change colour. These dark brown crispy bits won’t stay crispy once combined with the rest of the ingredients, but they will add tonnes of beefy flavour to the whole dish.

Whilst the mince is browning (this could take more than ten minutes depending on the water content of your mince) roughly chop the onions and chop the celery into small chunks. Once you are confident that the mince has browned, add the onion and celery to the pan with a good pinch of salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. Continue to cook over a medium heat to soften the vegetables, stirring from time to time. 

Whilst this is going on, dice the mushroom into small chunks and slice the garlic into thin slivers. Add to the pan – the mushroom will start to soak up some of the lovely juices as they brown. Grate the carrots on the fine side of the grater and stir into the pan.

Follow this with 1 tbsp of tomato purée, the rosemary, dried basil, dried oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Give it all a good stir, and if you have a glass of red wine that needs using up, chuck it in at this point. Once the wine starts to bubble, add the beef stock pot (or any other beef stock that you want to use), two tins of plum tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and stir well. 

Because I usually add a concentrated stock pot directly to the pan without dissolving it, I then fill the empty plum tomato tins with water and add this water to the pan too. This means that you get about the right amount of liquid in the pan, no bits of tomato get left behind in the tins and the tins are clean enough to pop straight in the recycling bin! You can do the same if you are just adding a beef stock cube to the pan. If, however, you are using a different type of beef stock that is already in liquid form when adding to the pan, you can skip this step.

Bring everything to the boil, then turn the heat down low, and let the whole thing simmer away until it is rich and sticky (or the consistency that you like!). This should take about an hour, but give it a good stir every few minutes to check that the bolognese isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once you are happy with it, check the seasoning and serve it stirred into spaghetti with a good grating of Parmesan over the top. Enjoy!