Spaghetti Bolognese

This month’s Simple and Delicious Home Cooking blog is all about Spaghetti Bolognese.
This month’s Simple and Delicious Home Cooking blog is all about Spaghetti Bolognese.

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s Simple and Delicious Home Cooking blog is all about Spaghetti Bolognese.

Everyone in the UK has their own special Spaghetti Bolognese recipe, or “Spag Bog” as it is affectionately known.  It’s the perfect dish for an autumnal evening with friends and family. It’s also really inexpensive to make and very easy to make huge amounts of, which I have done many, many times for large dinner parties and last-minute surprise guests.  You can make the sauce days ahead of when you need it and pop it in the fridge. It really does get better and better.  You can even freeze the leftover sauce for quick weeknight dinners.

It’s also one of my classic meals for film sets…very popular, nutritional, filling, and quick to eat when you are in a rush…chasing the light!

In my family, it was a regular for me growing up and my kids are basically made from it.  Although they may wince a little when it’s on the menu, they clean their plates and take the leftovers home…so there!

This month’s Simple and Delicious Home Cooking blog is all about Spaghetti Bolognese.

You can serve it with a side salad, very Italian, or with hot crusty buttered bread, which is my favorite. Lightly sprinkled with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan…yummy.  Whatever your particular method of delivery, it’s a winner…every time.

Red wine, beer, gin and tonic, or what I’m drinking right now as a write, a festive Pimms, it quite literally goes with everything and everyone!

So here is my secret recipe, adapted from my darling mother’s, my sisters have their own versions, which I am sure I will be schooled on after they read this, their’s are always fabulous of course. But I like mine…it’s something to do with DNA I imagine, the way we cook and hone our recipes, to suit our own particular pallet. That’s why my kids prefer mine to anyone else’s too. It’s inescapably now a part of their DNA!

Everything is always better if it’s organic and for this modestly priced dish, a couple of extra bucks won’t break the bank if you do choose organic grass-fed ground beef and the best Italian tinned tomatoes. But, it will still be delicious, even if you don’t.

In a large skillet add the olive oil, salt and pepper and turn the heat to medium. Add the chopped shallots or onions and the garlic, also chopped. Once they start sautéing add the ground beef by breaking it up with your fingers. (You can do this before hand in a bowl with a fork if you prefer). Mix together and let brown for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped herbs and stir.  I like a lot of fresh herbs in this.  Herbs are healing and so good for you! Add the beef bouillon and stir. Add the red wine and stir. Add the whole tomatoes and tomato paste, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and stir. I do this bit by bit to make sure everything is mixed together properly and because it’s a very pleasant task filled with love and memories.  My only rule when it comes to cooking is to take your time…makes all the difference both in the enjoyment of the process and the deliciousness of the results.  The tomatoes are whole because they just work better. You can use diced, but it’s not as good for some reason. You just need to go back about halfway through the cooking and squish them up with a wooden spoon. Also a lovely task.

This month’s Simple and Delicious Home Cooking blog is all about Spaghetti Bolognese.

Once it’s all together put the lid on it, turn down the heat to a very low simmer and pour yourself a drink, if you haven’t already!

Nothing much to do for a while but let it cook.

I like to let sauce cook for at least a couple of hours if I can. But you can serve it sooner, or later. But the longer it bubbles the better it will be.  If you notice the liquid is not where it should be, plentiful, but not soupy, add a little water, or a little wine, or even a little stock, which I have done on occasion. Just keep an eye on it, lift the lid every now and then!

Once you are happy with the sauce, boil the water.  You will need the deepest pot you have for the pasta, it always cooks best in a deep pot. The pasta will have more room to expand. The rule for pasta water is “a la mer.” By the sea. So lots of salt please! At least half a tablespoonful in a large pan 3/4 filled with water.  The salt brings out the flavour of the pasta. You can use any kind of pasta, I like linguini, but spaghetti is really absolutely perfect for this.  It holds the sauce so well and the meat clings to the silky strands and flips about in the air as you suck it into your mouth in a delightfully messy way.  I do like a little Romano cheese on top, finely grated, and of course crusty bread, baguettes, or a little Italian loaf with lots of butter. Delicious!!!

Strain the pasta in a substantial colander, size really does make all the difference here. I can’t tell you how many heartbreaking moments I have had watching spaghetti disappear down the drain when spilled from a nervous strainer.  Invest in a good stainless steel one, I’ve had mine for 30 years! 

Once you’ve strained the pasta, remembering to hold back a cup full of pasta water, tip it into the sauce. This is when is also pays off to have a large skillet.  I have had to mix it all together in the pasta pan when I’ve been overzealous with the amount of sauce I’ve created. But mix it well wherever you do it.  It helps to use two implements, like tossing a salad, but with slightly less energy, this is hot after all! The pasta water is in case you need more sauce, which you usually do, it also makes the whole mixture creamy, so add that too. Then serve! I like to use pasta bowls, the ones with the wide lips to keep it all from sploshing about, but plates are fine, or deep bowls, it all works!  It is a messy thing to eat, but that’s why kids love it so much I think. Pasta is a leveller. Kids, parents, grannies, dogs, we all get a little messy and if you like a silent dinner table, this is the food for you! Everyone should be too busy eating to talk. Silence means it’s good!

So there you have it!! Enjoy! And do let me know how you liked it!! I’d love to know if I’ve spread a little love, we all need that!

Spaghetti Bolognese Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef. 85% fat content (organic grass-fed if possible)

1 lb bag of dried spaghetti

1 large tin of whole tomatoes.

1 small sweet onion or two shallots

3 large cloves of garlic (less if you don’t like garlic)

Tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemerry

Tablespoon of chopped fresh mint

Tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme

Teaspoon of dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper 

1 large bay leaf

1 tablespoon beef bouillon

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

Half a glass of red wine

1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of good olive oil


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