Spaghetti Bolognese is my go to comfort food, even if it bears little if any resemblance to its Italian ancestor! Like most of my favourite dishes it started off as a hand-me-down recipe from Mum, and over the years I’ve added to it, and taken away from it (pancetta, I’m looking at you!), until it’s settled down to this recipe.
In an ideal world, make it the day before and let it develop overnight. But it’s such a mood thing for me that I usually cook it and eat it the same night, and it tastes just fine. Also freezes really well for another day.
So if you’re ever looking for a hug in a bowl, allow me to heartily recommend this 🙂
- 500g mince beef
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pack of chestnut mushrooms, diced
- 1 can of tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 beef stock cube / pot
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Small glass or mug of milk
- Worcestershire sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil for cooking
- Optional extras: Parmesan cheese, Tobasco
- Dice the onions and mushrooms, and mince the garlic. Simples!
- Heat some oil in the pot and cook off the onions and garlic on a medium heat until the onions start to look transparent.
- Add the mushrooms (you might need to add a little more oil if it starts to get a bit dry) and once they've cooked down too, remove the lot to a bowl.
- In the same pot, brown the mince. I find the best way is to push the mince down until it covers the entire base of the pan with no gaps, this helps it to brown rather than broil. Once one side is browned, flip the mince over to cook off the other side.
- Turn the heat up to high and tip in the milk, and keep the heat up until the milk has all soaked in to the mince (the milk really helps to tenderise the mince).
- Turn the heat back down to medium and squeeze in about half a tube of tomato purée. Stir it all in before adding the onions, garlic and mushrooms back into the pot.
- Then, add the can of tomatoes and the stock cube and give it all a good stir. (fifi's top tip - If your canned tomatoes are whole I recommend draining the tomato juice into the pot first, then take a tomato and holding it over the pot squish hard in your hand and drop whatever is left into the sauce. Repeat until all the tomatoes are squished, it's almost as satisfying as popping bubble wrap!! Be warned, though, as the tomatoes do have a tendency to kick back and end up on your clothes if you squish too hard.)
- If there’s not a lot of liquid then add some water, about 1/3rd of the empty can of tomatoes.
- Season! Salt and pepper, bay leaves, a splash of balsamic vinegar (the sweetness cuts the tinniness that you sometimes get with tomatoes), and a dash (or ten!) of Worcestershire sauce. This last is really a personal taste thing. Me, I like LOADS of Worcestershire sauce so there’s no such thing as too much of it, but it’s easier to add more than remove what you've put in, so start with a little and taste it and work up to the perfect amount of dash for you.
- Once it’s all bubbling away, turn the heat right down to the lowest setting and put a lid on it for 1.5 hours, stirring and tasting to check the seasoning every half hour or so.
- Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes. If it starts to look a bit dry then add a little hot water. If it looks too wet then turn the heat up a little.
- Serve on spaghetti with a generous grating of parmesan. And if you like a little heat in your food, try adding a couple of dashes of Tobasco to the spaghetti. I’m sure it’s the last thing an Italian would add to their ragu, but I’ve been Tobasco-ing mine since I was a kid and couldn't eat Spag Bol now without the hot red stuff!