I was a little busy the past week and have not had the time to cook or even be in the kitchen. Zu and I went to Sheffield for 2 days for our visa extension interview and application, which Alhamdulillah, turned out good. We have been given an extra year to remain in the UK, which works out very well for us. With the extension, Zu will be able to complete his masters and work until the end of his contract, and I will be able to pursue a culinary course which has always been my lifelong dream (I will talk more about this in another post). After our trip to Sheffield, Zu and I went our separate ways, he went back to Edinburgh for work and I went back to London 😀 (a day away from London is a day too long!). The next few days after my return from Sheffield, I was busy getting the house ready to receive our new bed, to welcome our guest for the weekend and as well as to finalise my application to the culinary school. I didn’t realise getting a new bed can take up so much of my time because not only did I have to clear and clean everything stashed and kept hidden under the bed, but as it turned out, I also had to take the bed apart, myself! I wasn’t too happy about this because we paid so much to get the old bed taken away, and were surprised that this did not involve taking the old bed apart. So there I was, in my hot tiny flat (London has been hot! hot! hot!) trying to take our old double bed apart. Well to cut the long story short, after a few hectic days, I barely had enough energy to whip up an elaborated and time-consuming meal for our weekend guest. Spaghetti with Bolognese ragu sauce was perfect as it doesn’t require me to be in the kitchen all day, and how can you go wrong with a delicious plate of hearty spaghetti Bolognese.
INGREDIENT (Serves 4, or 2 very hungry people)
500g minced beef
2 medium-sized carrot (diced)
2 medium-sized celery (diced)
2 medium-sized onions (diced)
3 tomatoes (core removed, and diced)
2-3 bay leaf
1 star anise (according to Heston B, this helps to bring out the flavour of the meat)
1 small can of tomato purée (approximately 140g)
1 handful of fresh basil
1 tbs chilli powder
Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
1. To a pan, drizzle a little bit of olive oil and add the diced onions, celery and carrots (this is a typical Italian sofrito mixture). Let the vegetables sit in the pan on medium heat to sweat for 10-15 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
2. After the vegetables have soften, add the anchovy pieces and fry until they melt into the vegetables.
3. After the anchovies have melted, add in the minced beef and break it down using a spatula to ensure the beef is properly cooked. Continue to break the minced beef down and stir until the minced beef is cooked. This should take around 5-7 minutes.
4. After the minced beef is cooked, add in the tomato purée and stir well. Then add in the bay leaves and star anise, and add 1 cup of water to the pan. Mix well and let the sauce simmer on very low heat for 3 hours. Make sure the pan in covered. Remove the star anise after 1 hour of it being in the pan.
5. After 3 hours, add the diced tomatoes. Make sure the core of the tomatoes is removed to prevent the sauce from becoming too watery. Add 1 tablespoon of chilli powder (omit or add more, according to your preference). Cover the pan and let sit to simmer for another 1 hour on very low heat.
6. Season the sauce with a little bit of salt and sugar and throw in a handful of basil leave. Mix well. I like to mix in al dente pasta into the sauce with a little bit of the pasta water and mix well. This will make the pasta absorb the sauce better giving it a silky and smooth texture.
The Bolognese ragu sauce is now ready and can be served with freshly cooked pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. This sauce stores well and in fact, the flavours get better after being stored for a day or two. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a big helping of pasta with meat sauce. Carb and meat, now that is a match made in heaven.
Meat sauce lover,