Monday, 19 November 2012

spaghetti bolognese two ways



... one of the things that reminds me of my mums kitchen the most is the richly sweet aroma of bolognese sauce bubbling away on the hob... I remember her making it for us regularly in the 80's when I guess it would have been at the peak of it's popularity... it was a very traditional recipe and way back in the darkest 1980's suburban London it was served with dried Parmesan cheese that came in a little cardboard shaker tube... i'm sure any of my readers over the age of 30 will remember the time when italian cheese came wrapped in cardboard.  I know Nigel Slater reminisces eloquently about the sweet, sickly smelling stuff in his excellent book Toast... well in the Franks household, we loved the stuff... whichever cheese you use I think that although it's not one of the bolognese ingredients it is most definitely 100% part of the finished dish... much like a risotto is not quite complete without that hit of salty cheesiness before serving...

... with The Viking being a vegetarian I often get asked if I cook twice at mealtimes and it's a tricky answer because we tend to eat a lot of salads with a variety of toppings which we choose ourselves but obviously I do cook quite a bit of meat and what I tend to do is start every dish as vegetarian and then split it when it comes to adding the meat... or not as the case may be... it may sound confusing but it's illustrated nicely with this recipe...


spaghetti bolognese two ways
for the meat version i'm using some truly incredible steak mince, which was part of the starter pack recently sent to me by the brilliant people at Westin Gourmet,  and for the veggie version i'm using what I think is the best alternative for this classic dish, Quorn mince... there are one or two tricks along the way including using one of my favourite new finds - Lincolnshire Relish... it's brand new to the market and is a nice veggie alternative to Worcestershire Sauce... the ultimate trick with both versions is to cook them in the morning or better yet, the night before and then leave them before eating for at least 6 hours...  I start with a classic triumvirate of onion, carrots and celery...

1 large onion - finely chopped
1 large carrot - very finely diced
1 large stick of celery - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
8 medium chestnut mushrooms - very finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh rosemary
Lincolnshire

to add to the veggie version
1 packet of quorn mince
1 tablespoon Lincolnshire Relish
600g or 2 tins chopped tomatoes
1pint of liquid made up of -
1/2 pint good quality veg stock
1/4 pint dark gravy powder
1/4 pint red wine

to add to the meat version
50g lardons
3 chicken livers - finely chopped
1kg steak mince

600g or 2 tins chopped tomatoes
1/2 pint good quality veg stock
1/4 pint red wine

- so you need to start with a large pan or casserole dish, add a nob of butter and some olive oil and then gently saute the onions for 5 mins, then add the celery and carrots and saute for another 5 mins before adding the garlic, dried oregano and rosemary... sizzle gently for another 5 mins... remove from the pan and set aside

- melt a little more butter and oil in the pan and saute the mushrooms with a generous amount of pepper and a little salt until almost dissolving... this is the stage where one becomes two...

- now, if you're making 2 versions, this is where you'll need your second large pan as you halve the cooked ingredients... if you're just making one version then simply continue with the ingredients and method as outlined below...

veggie version
add the quorn mince and stir it into the vegetables and let it sizzle a minute or two before adding the tomatoes, relish, and liquid - a quick stir and then let it bubble away on a very low heat for at least an hour.

meat version
add the lardons and chicken livers, whack the heat up and let them melt together, then add the meat and mix it all around... allow it to brown gently and entirely before adding the tomatoes and liquid, then let it bubble away on a very low heat for at least an hour.

re-heat gently after leaving for at least 6 hours and serve both version with your favourite pasta, spaghetti being the traditional choice and plenty of strong hard cheese...

eat and of course, enjoy!

24 comments:

  1. Spaghetti bolognese is definitely one of those foods that takes me right back to childhood, dried parmesan and all! It sounds like you have such a great depth of flavour in this, really delicious.

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  2. I was a bit of a half-hearted vegetarian in the 90's and the one thing I really, really missed was my mother's spag bol . . . and the first thing I cooked when I started to eat meat again was of course the happiest of comfort foods. Although your veggie version does sound rather good. Now what is Lincolnshire relish? Is this like Hendersons? (worcestershire sauce without the anchovies)

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  3. If I don't eat one of my versions of Spag Bol each week, I would have to be given injections. One contains beef, the other chorizo. Both are sensational.

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    1. oooh, chorizo... now that's a great ingredient!

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  4. Great Post,such a classic dish that everyone makes great version

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  5. Lovely <3

    XoXo
    http://abudhabifood.blogspot.com

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  6. LOL! This is JUST like what we do in a half meat and half veggie house! Meat and Quorn mince.....and like you, I have a GREAT love of that smelly stuff in the cartons, love it! Karen

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  7. My mother made a similar pasta sauce. It must have been her English roots!
    My boys love it and I'll make it while they are here for the Christmas holidays. Thanks for the delicious reminder.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  8. Can't beat a good spag bol - my Mum also used to be a dab hand at making this for us in the 80's ... although I am rather partial to my veggie version these days ;0)
    I've never thought of adding relish, my mouth is watering at the idea of it!

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  9. This is fabulous, Dom, I especially like that you've presented it both ways. I think it's one of the most satisfying meals on earth. I always add a splash of heavy cream to mine at the end.
    Oh, and I can top you on the cheese memories...we used to get a neon orange powder (aka 'American' cheese) in a cardboard shaker, and we used to sprinkle it on toast.

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  10. I love spag bol, nothing quite beats it ! x

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  11. Oh yeah - I remember parmesan in a cardboard tube!

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  12. Hello Dom,
    That brings a smile to my face, thanks. Twenty odd minutes north of you in the 80's, eating the same thing and pestering my mum with the tube of cheese (won't cheddar do darling?), the garlic (are you sure you will like it) and black pepper (we only have white but I'll get some). Feels just like yesterday...
    Hope the Viking is better? I had a similar thing earlier this year and had to stop eating so much fibre, (Dr said I was being too healthy (!) and eat some white bread, can you believe it! - I did get on better by making a houmous(ish) recipe using polenta (extra water for cooking) with plenty of herbs, on crostini.
    Ivan

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    1. Hey Ivan, memories of food are the most evocative I feel! The Viking is on the mend thank you. X

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  13. Quorn is genius stuff, no veggies in this house but we eat it at least once a week. You may remember spaghetti bolognese from the 80s but we were eating it in the 70s, and it was our student favourite entertaining dish. Not keen on the cardboard cheese, the real stuff was a revelation!

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  14. My mom didn't always make a bolognese, but there always seemed to be a sauce of some kind cooking on the stove! It is a lovely smell, isn't it??
    Your bolognese looks amazing, Dom. I will be trying this very soon!

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  15. Like Janice I learned to cook this as a student in the *coughs* late 70's, the rest is history. If you can cook a good spaghetti bol you will never starve. Smashing recipe anyone would relish. x

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  16. Couldn't help having a wee chuckle and thinking of this post when I went into our local Spar yesterday, and there was the very same dried cheese for sprinkling!

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  17. Looks delicious! And of course, love the meat :)

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  18. Vegetarian Spaghetti alla Bolognese is so intriguing!
    Well done!

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  19. gold ol' spag bol! even growing up in asia, we had tons of this. it was considered very trendy and we had them in Swensen's parlours. one of the first few things I cooked as a student too, though, nowhere near as delicious as yours! x

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  20. I still love spag bol when it's made well and, of course, yours is made very well. Since the late 80s I've invariably cooked the meat in milk initially. I remember the cardboard tubes of Parmesan really well but I don't remember ever buying any (maybe I've repressed the memory). I met Mr Carluccio in the early or mid 1980s and he was so rude about dried up Parmesan that I simply didn't dare consider it after that.

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  21. Hahaha, I remember that revolting parmesan in tubs. My parents used to eat it on something probably Italian-ish but my brother and I had more sense. It put me off parmesan for years and years - it was a revelation when I tasted the real stuff!

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