Ah Spaghetti Bolognaise! The bachelor’s friend, muse and destroyer of waistlines. Here I offer a hot new take on an old favourite. All measures are calculated for two people of firm appetite with enough left over to fill a few jaffles on a hungover late winter morning.
This one’s a bit tricky though as it involves not one (1) but two (2) hotplates. You’ll need all your project management skills here.
- First catch, kill and grind up your cow. If this proves problematic, simply purchase 500 grams or so of lean beef mince from your local boucherie or supermarché (You can tell I’ve been watching ‘Hot Fuzz’ again.)
- One bottle of robust and reasonably priced red wine, preferably a burgundy. OK, Shiraz if you must, you metrosexual you.
- One muxtape of good narcocorrido interspiced with lashings of Nina Rota and Enio Morricone. And a cheap greenish cheroot.
- Enough olive oil to grease your arm up so it can slide through the bars to reach the keys of the guard slumbering under his sombrero. Virgin, extra virgin, cold pressed, whatever, they all look the same to me over a jaffle and hot buttered rum and coffee the next day.
- A tablespoon of salt.
- Two bloody big white onions. T. Rex eyeball size at least. Chop, chop.
- A couple of cloves of garlic (for the purists). I find a level tablespoon of pre-pulverised garlic from a jar quite adequate.
- 500 grams of straightforward no frills spaghetti.
- One 500 gram bottle of not trying to be too clever pasta sauce.
- One of those cute little tubs of Leggos tomato paste.
- Enough honey to fill an eggcup. Or a baby T.Rex eyesocket.
- Two majorly brimming tablespoons of quality medium-hot chilli paste (definitely not chilli powder) up to 200,000 Scoville Units max. Unless of course you’re one of those really macho bachelors who enjoys singing along to Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” the next day in a v. small room with excellent acoustics. In which case you should be aware that the Scoville scale goes up to 18,000,000 units. For those that wish to be pre-cremated.
- 300 grams of canned and drained red kidney beans. The starch cuts the chilli heat.
- Some black pepper, oregano and other herbs if the fancy takes you.
- Click muxtape on and light cheroot.
- Boil at least two litres of water (with the salt) in a saucepan that now should have been scrubbed clean of that mashed potatoes disaster.
- Check wine to make sure it isn’t corked. Are you sure? Check again. Better safe than sorry. Cheers.
- Dollop the olive oil in a frying pan on full heat, chuck in the crunched up onion and garlic and sweat the buggers for about five minutes, stirring now and then. You wanna see some browning here but not too much. About three days into your holiday suntan should do it.
- The water’s boiling? Good. Add the spaghetti and poke it into submission below the waterline.
- Add the mince to the frying pan and smodge it around until the pink turns to a brownish-grey. Then turn down the heat to around half what it was before, do a kidney beans air strike and keep stirring from time to time.
- Quick, check if the spag has reached al dente status. It has? Good! Turn the heat down to the barest whisper of a hint of a suggestion of a smidgeon of a soupcon of calorific energy. A handy tip here. Remove cheroot from mouth before leaning over the steaming saucepan. The gasper gets soggy and the ash discolours the water.
- Double-check that the wine hasn’t suddenly become corked.
- Empty the bottle of pasta sauce into the frying pan and encourage it to blend with the brooding mince, kidney beans, onions and garlic.
- Into the empty pasta sauce jar, insert the tomato paste, honey, chilli paste, various herbs as you see fit and a good glass of the wine. Add a dash of hot water, put the lid back on, shake into a foaming frenzy and pour the resultant concoction into the frying pan.
- If all goes well, you should now be eyeballing a steaming bubbling aromatic red swamp. Turn the heat down to the barest simmer to cook the water out. What you’re aiming for here is the river Phlegethon as limned in Dante’s seventh circle of hell.
- Once it gets nice and gluggy, kill the heat and frantically bustle around for a colander to drain the spag. However do not attempt a la Jack Lemmon in “The Apartment” to use a tennis racket for this purpose – as I once did to impress a date. She was impressed. Not so much the Elwood Tennis Club a few days later when I ventured onto the court with a Dunlop Power Plus now strung to a soggy 20 pounds and smelling strongly of garlic.
- Anyway, now have some more wine to wash away that memory and celebrate the fact we should be about done now.
Find two reasonably unchipped plates and insert spag underneath sauce, leaving behind enough for next day brunch jaffles.
Perhaps a sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprig of greenery perched on top if you’re into that whole presentation thang.
A nice salad, some garlic bread, another bottle of red and a Billy Wilder DVD makes a nice accompaniment. Chased down by a joint, a couple of cognacs and a substantial slab of gourmet chocolate.
Make sure that within 6-12 hours your water closet is stocked with an easy to hand aerosol air freshener.