But back to tonight, I really didn't feel up to mashing anything, so my all time favourite of mashed potatoes and butter was out. I resorted to pasta. Nothing high-faluting either. Not me. Not tonight. Nope, I went for the good, old fashioned, everyone's happy, easy to make spaghetti bolognese. Or spag bog as it's known on the street.
As an aside, I weighed in on a serious debate a while back with my friends Fleur and Dave. Dave likes chilli in his bog, and Fleur doesn't. I sat there, bemused, while both made compelling arguments for why you either should or shouldn't add this flavour enhancing ingredient. At this point they turned to me to cast a vote. Sadly for Fleur, I had to admit that I actually like a hint of chilli in my bog sauce. It's not that I like it loaded - no point not being able to taste the dish because your mouth is on fire - but just a hint is nice. Dave on the other hand I suspect, does like it loaded. But then Dave is Indian and grew up burning his taste buds off on his mother's brilliant Indian cooking. Really, it's up to you - add chilli; don't add chilli. Either way, a good spag bog rates as a fairly healthy and easy comfort meal.
750g beef mince
1 x 400g tin tomatoes, pureed
1 x 140g tin tomato paste
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
1 glass red wine (or whatever)
1 tbsp Hungarian style sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
Soften the onion in a generous splash of olive oil. Once it's looking soft and golden, add the garlic and the mince. Break the mince up with a wooden spoon so there are no large clumps. Once the mince has browned off slightly, add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir it all together. Then add everything else. Simmer on the lowest heat until it's well cooked. Salt & chilli to taste. (Or not)
You don't need to boil the living daylights out of this sauce and you definitely don't want it to burn, but it's mince, so make sure it's thoroughly cooked. I quite like letting it simmer gently for ages so that all the flavours infuse. In fact, I think it's one of those sauces that tastes better when it's had a chance to cool down slightly, and it's great the next day.
Serve on spaghetti with Parmesan and more fresh basil if you like.