It’s one of those afternoons in the car on Wednesdays, I have to pick up a kid at ten past four, at half past four and at five o’clock. Different kids, also different schools. This gets me home at about five thirty, so I need something quick for dinner. Pasta will fit the bill, even though I’m anticipating a “not pasta AGAIN! Didn’t we have it last week?” from the Muffet who is putting in some excellent moaning practise for when she is a teenager next year.
Everyone has a spaghetti bolognese recipe and I’m sure none of them would be recognisable in Bologna. My one has had some input from actual Italians, so I thought I’d share. The first thing is that the meat is a minor player, and it is pork and veal mince. The second is that if you’re going to put garlic in it, you put in a smashed clove, and you pull it out before serving. Some nonnas just cut a clove in half and rub the pot with it. The third is that you cook it for ages. This isn’t just a recipe you can prepare ahead of time. It’s one that you really should.
The one I’m making for tonight is a double serving so I can freeze half of it. I finely chopped two rashers of bacon, sometimes I chuck in some superannuated salami slices and pull them out before serving, I want a bit of a smoky flavour. Add in a chopped onion and about two hundred grams of pork and veal mince. I guess you can use beef if that’s all you can get but you may want to consider moving somewhere more multicultural. Cook it over a medium heat for a bit, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. If the meat sticks a bit, add a splash of olive oil.
Move the pot to your smallest burner. Add a smashed clove of garlic, a chopped stalk of celery and some bay leaves. I never know if they add more flavour, I like to think they do and it makes me feel all continental. One day I’ll have to get hold of some fresh ones. Add two tins of tomatoes. I’m using Italian ones, because that’s all they stock at our local IGA, and most locals buy them by the pallet. Stir it about, put the lid on and leave it over a low flame, stirring occasionally, and turn it off when it’s time to go and pick up the kids. At this point your house will smell extremely fragrant and passers by will be leaning over your front fence for a sniff.
About twenty minutes before I serve it I’m going to put it back on the heat and add in a whole lot of sliced mushrooms, because I like them. I may also put in a fresh chopped chilli. Just before serving it I’m going to stir through a large bunch of chopped continental parsley and then I’ll feel like we’re getting our greens. I’m going to serve it, not with spaghetti, but with fresh fettuccine from the local pasta guy and freshly grated Parmesan.
I have got the kids to the stage where they’ll eat pasta with cooked broccoli and raw diced capsicum stirred through it. They’re all very anti tomato though, so this one will be an adults only dish. Yes, I know I should make them try it, but I know now which battles to pick, and it isn’t this one.