There’s Spaghetti Bolognese and then there’s Spaghetti Bolognese… (or Spaghetti Shabbatgnese!)
Friday night dinner doesn’t always have to be roast chicken and I guarantee that your nearest and dearest will go crazy for this mind-blowing variant of the recipe by our resident chef, Mark Frankel.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a dish that normally takes a huge amount of love and time, and whilst this one is full to bursting with amour, it takes well under an hour to prepare and make the entire dish (more time for wedding planning then — yay!).
This is the second in our monthly series of Frankel-y brilliant Friday night recipes. If you missed Mark’s first one, it’s right here.
Three. Let’s give you three guesses.
Before we start, I must say that it is great to see your culinary appetite whet after surviving my first recipe. There was a noticeable increase in poultry sales here in North West London, which I’m assuming had something to do with me giving away my deepest, tastiest secrets last month…
So, please do take your first guess to which question I am faced with the most. How do I keep my devilishly charming young looks, I hear you say. Ah yes, besides that one. All joking aside, the question of all questions is actually: “What is your most favourite dish?”
Less is more sometimes, and the sweet simple things in life are the real extraordinary pleasures. Therefore, my answer comes easily to this question: Spaghetti alla Bolognese. A hearty, wholesome bowl of steaming pasta covered in generous lashings of deliciously meaty sauce. It’s a fantastic family pleaser and magnificently ticks all the boxes in the comfort food criteria. For the geeks among us, the first documented recipe for this meat based sauce dates all the way back to 1891. Impressively tasty, right?
There are so many variations of this dish worldwide, that it truly boggles the mind. Can you really improve a recipe, which boasts a 125 old food lifespan having rubbed forks and spoons with various meats along the plates from veal to pork, and now the 21st century’s newest fad ‘Quorn’. My amazing grandma, G-d bless her soul, used to prepare her version with carrots and red peppers for a subtly sweet flavour. Others recommend using tomato pureà©, a pinch of nutmeg, a dash of wine & even milk for the non-kosher recipes or even turmeric as part of their take on the world’s best ‘spag bol’. Did you know that in Italy this dish is never served with spaghetti due to its smooth surface, which cannot easily absorb the meaty sauce. The true Italian way is to serve it with tagliatelle, pappardelle or fettuccine, which have a wider more coarse surface to taste every last ingredient in your secret bolognese sauce.
Two very important tips with this recipe are to use high quality, lean ground beef steak mince and also to cook the bolognese sauce the night before. Letting your meaty sauce mature in flavour overnight is worth its weight in Parmesan cheese. Food for thought here (pun fully intended): actively make too much bolognese sauce, so you can either invite more family and friends over for Friday night dinner, or pop the remainder into your freezer for one of our renowned British rainy days, when all you fancy is a bowl of warming comfort food whilst wrapped in a blanket by the fire place.
As we all need a dash of love and romance in our life à la Disney’s ‘The Lady and the Tramp’ style, I will share my very own recipe with you today. Remember, a recipe has no soul, but you as the cook must bring the soul to the recipe. Therefore, never be shy to experiment with ingredients, ideas and different cooking techniques. Food is essential to life, therefore make it delicious.
Until next time, knives sharpened!
- 1kg steak mince
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 6 large mushrooms, chopped
- Dried basil
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Maldon sea salt
- 100ml red wine
- Sun dried tomato purà©e
- 1 tablespoon of muscovado sugar
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Make the Bolognese Sauce: Fry the onions in oil on a low heat for 5 minutes and then add the garlic. After a few minutes add the chopped mushrooms and carrots. Make sure not to burn the garlic and sautà© for 5 minutes. Keep the heat fairly low, so you don’t burn any of the ingredients — you just want to soften them a little.
Then turn the heat up and add the mince – keep stirring until most of the meat is brown. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the wine. I find that the sun dried tomato purà©e adds a lovely flavour to the dish. You could also add fresh tomatoes to the dish, and a bay leaf always helps to add more intense flavour.
Once you’ve added the rest of the ingredients, turn down the heat, add the wine (optional), and let it simmer for 40 minutes. The sauce should reduce down to around half the original volume. Once it cools down, place in the fridge with a lid on top and serve the next day. I always put some in tupperware and place in the freezer for a rainy day (in every sense of the word).
Make your pasta: When cooking your pasta of choice, use lots of boiling water and add salt. Do not add oil to your water, as this will be absorbed into the pasta, which prevents the delicious bolognese from adhering to it. Stir your pasta continuously for the first 1-2 minutes once immersed in the boiling water to prevent sticking whilst the starch comes to the surface. Adding salt to your water helps flavour the pasta, so bear this in mind when adding salt to your bolognese sauce. Make sure you take the pasta out before it goes soft for the renowned al dente bite. This means checking it regularly after around 7 mins. Keep a small cup of the boiled water aside. Drain the pasta and place back in the saucepan to then add the small cup of water into the pasta. Do not cook the pasta at this point. Just add the lovely hot bolognese sauce (gently reheat whilst boiling your pasta) and liberally mix into the pasta.
I always leave salt and pepper on the table for guests. Maldon sea salt adds a lovely flavour to the sauce if added once cooked, so try to use a little less salt when cooking than you normally would. If you like a spicy twist to your bolognese, you can add either Tabasco or Nando’s peri-peri sauce before serving. Remember napkins, as your guests will rapidly spoon twirl or even slurp your delicious food offerings with great delight.
Perhaps it will even result in a Lady and the Tramp style moment over that last ribbon of pasta.. Forks & spoons at the ready. Be’Tay Avon!
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Recipe and images by Mark Frankel. Words by Maya Hartge. Header image: Cassidy Brooke
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