Growing up, my Aunty Jen (AKA hippy aunty) made the best spag bol. I remember she used to always have that grated parmesan cheese in a plastic shaker, container thingy. The one with a green label and yellow lid from memory? Oh how I used to love that stuff. Mum mustn’t of bought it because my memories of it were at Jen’s, one of my earliest food memories. These days, I admit to buying fresh parmesan and grating it myself, but the smell of that old school cheese still makes my tummy rumble.
Spaghetti bolognese, spag bol, or at our place, ‘pasta and meat’ is one of the most cooked meals in many a household with small children. Or big children, for that matter. Everyone I know knows how to make it. I’m always surprised though that everybody’s spag bol tastes so different! I know there are recipes that say to use half beef/ half pork mince, some say to use passata and others fresh tomatoes. I’m not sure how many recipes (if any) add Dijon mustard, like mine does. I don’t know where this comes from but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been adding it. Mum? Did I get that from you?
Isn’t it funny how you get so used to doing what you know, that you just assume others do the same? Alice, a good friend of mine, reckons she’s never bought or cooked with Worcestershire sauce before she tried cooking one of my slow cooker recipes. I seem to use it a lot (maybe because my mum, grandma and mother in law have taught me so many things to make with ‘woosty’ in it?) I can still remember my Pa adding Worcestershire sauce to his fried eggs each morning.
I add relish to my bolognese mince because Mum always has (she has a sweet tooth), I use fresh rosemary because I like the way it tastes and I, very un-traditionally add chilli flakes because I love everything with chilli.
I like nothing more than sharing my recipes and chatting to others about theirs; I’d love to hear what you put in your bolognese mince. I know my friend’s dad, Simon’s secret weapon is strawberry jam (which I use instead of tomato relish if I don’t have any in the fridge). So please comment on this post below and share your tips for the perfect spag bol.
And if you’re that person that still secretly has a thing for the old parmesan cheese in a jar, other foodie’s might judge. But don’t worry…
I think you’ve got good taste.
lo’s spaghetti bolognese (serves 4 – 6)
500 grams of beef mince
1 x brown onion, finely diced
1 x stick of celery, finely diced
1 x carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 50 gram sachet of tomato paste
1 x 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x beef stock cube, diluted in 400 ml of water (I use the empty tomato tin to measure)
1 x dessert spoon of tomato relish (or strawberry jam)
1 x teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 x good shakes of the Worcestershire sauce bottle
Light sprinkling of chilli flakes
Light sprinkling of dried oregano
Light sprinkling of dried parsley
Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 x bay leaf
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Olive oil, a dash
Cooked spaghetti, to serve
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Fresh basil or parsley, to serve, optional
Baby spinach leaves, to serve, optional
- In a heavy based pan, add a dash of olive oil and fry the onions, celery, carrots and garlic until softened.
- Add the mince, and season really well with salt and pepper. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon and stir whilst cooking, until the meat has changed colour.
- Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, stock cube diluted in 400 ml of water, tomato relish, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chilli flakes, oregano, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to the boil.
- Back off to a slow simmer and let it cook for 45 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaf and serve with freshly cooked pasta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and either parsley or basil and/or baby spinach leaves.
- I often add a splash of red wine to the bolognese if I happen to have an open bottle (or if I feel like opening one). I add it just before I add the tomato paste and tinned tomatoes.
- I sometimes add some finely diced bacon or prosciutto to the onion/carrot/celery/garlic frying stage for that extra depth of flavour.
- I always throw a handful of baby spinach leaves in to my bowl whenever I eat spaghetti bolognese. Freshens it up and it’s a good way to sneak in a few more vege.
- This mince freezes really well and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd.
- Use penne pasta instead of spaghetti for a change too.
If you make this bolognese please leave your comments below. xx