You’d think that Spaghetti Bolognese – a dish that seems to feature on every greasy menu across Europe (cafes in Turkey and Greek tavernas included) – probably didn’t require further attention. After all, everyone has their own recipe: alongside ‘A Decent Roast’, it seemed to be the only other dish people came to university knowing in various, and only occasionally passable manifestations.
Much to the frustration of purists many of these recipes bastardise the original ragu base of onion, carrot and celery and this formula is no exception – hence why it’s called Spag Bol (to offend purists further). Certainly it uses beef mince, and is served over spaghetti but that’s about it: I’ve even supplanted chopped tomatoes with passata because I can’t stand the texture of tomato flesh (I know this is bizarre). However, what this recipe lacks in original ingredients, it more than makes up for in sheer and total scoffability, which is why I felt compelled to post it. Instead of the prescribed pork mince of so many recipes – or sometimes bacon – I use chorizo, and as various pals and family members reassure me, the end result is a rich, hearty and slightly posher addition to the plethora of recipes already out there.
For the bolognese:
500g mince beef
200g chorizo (or, in this case Mangalica Hungarian Paprika sausage – a curveball from Waitrose)
250g cup mushrooms
1 large onion
2 tablespoons tomato puree concentrate
Splash of Lea & Perrins
Sprinkle of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
A knob of butter
+ 600g of spaghetti (for four properly generous portions)
+ 4 tablespoons of pinenuts and parmesan (to finish)
1. Chop your onions and mushrooms into rough cubes – around the same size as a Smartie / Reese’s piece, keeping them separate. I always leave the mushroom stalks out, but less fussy friends tell me that this is completely unnecessary.
2. In a pan, heat the tablespoon of olive oil and knob of butter on low heat. Once this is heated and foaming, add the onions, keeping the heat very low.
3. After five minutes – or once the onions are really coated in the butter and oil mix -add the mushroom. Remember to keep the mixture moving with the spoon – onions can toast on the edges quite easily.
3. Meanwhile, skin and rough chop the chorizo
4. Once the onions and mushrooms have reduced, add the chorizo to the pan. Up the heat slightly, to get the chorizo sizzling. The orangey red paprika should start to bleed from the chorizo pieces, colouring the mushroom and onion.
5. When the chorizo has sizzled and turned a brown colour (while the mushrooms and onion mix has gone really quite orangey-red) – after around ten minutes – add the mince.
6. For this, you should up the heat again, so that when the beef hits the pan it turns brown quickly and seals. The contents of the pan should be kept moving – like onion, beef can toast quite easily – so 95% of the mince is browned. Give yourself five minutes for this – only moving on once you’re happy the meat looks cooked.
7. Once this is blabbing away – both the onions, beef, and mushrooms will have given off liquid – add the Lea & Perrins. My Mum calls it a splash but if you want to get technical, a tablespoon or two should do dandy. Season with cracked black pepper and reduce the heat.
8. Add the passata and leave to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, moving every now and again to save the mixture sitting to the bottom of the pan.
9. Once the 20 minutes are up, keep the bolognese warm on very low heat until you’ve cooked your spaghetti. I always cook mine al dente (though other people in my family – Hi Dad! – like it at a semi-puree texture) and slather it in butter before ladling the hot bolognese over the top.
10. Serve out of the pan and garnish with parmesan and pine nuts. Wolf it down. Don’t wear a white shirt like I did, either. Elementary mistake, my dear Watson.