For as long as I can remember, my brother has had a taste for fine foods. When we were children, my parents would take us to rather nice restaurants and my brother would invariably pick the grandest dishes on the menu. He loved soup, in fact he was obsessed with soup. If we were eating out, he’d usually order the rather magnificent Bisque de Homard as a starter. He’d tuck into this with great gusto, his napkin firmly tucked into his shirt, savouring each spoonful with noises of appreciation. He also had a penchant for saumon fumé, îles flottantes and fois gras. So young, such a fine palate.
Needless to say, with such high standards, he’d also express his distaste for food he thought was below par. One summer in the early 1980’s, my parents had taken us to a restaurant in Montreux for lunch. Having ordered Spaghetti Bolognese, my brother’s discontent became quickly apparent as he picked at his food and his huffiness took an upwards turn. Suddenly, at the top of his voice he declared: ‘C’est de la merde!’. Imagine my parents’ mortified silence at this angry pronouncement, made only worse by the fact we were sat next to a table of nuns quietly tucking into their lunch. We still laugh about it years later.
I like to think that my mother’s own Spaghetti Bolognese was so good that any other attempt at it would always come a poor second in my brother’s eyes. It’s a recipe I watched her make time and time again and which I have made many times since.
250g extra lean organic minced beef
1 onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Ketchup
1 tbsp tomato purée
A splash of Maggi Arome
A pinch of dried oregano
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can of water
In a large casserole dish, heat the olive oil on a medium to high heat, once hot, add the onion and garlic and fry for 4-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
Add the meat, breaking it up with your hands as you add it to the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the meat is no longer pink.
Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce all over the cooking meat Stir.
Add the ketchup. Stir again and cook for a minute or two. This will add sweetness to the dish – I promise you it’s worthwhile! Add the Maggi and some salt to taste.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes (and add the dried oregano) and cook for 5 mins. Fill the empty can with water and add a quarter of the water in. Cook for an hour on low-medium heat and during this time add water at intervals so the sauce doesn’t dry out.
Season with salt & pepper. Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Don’t forget to cook your spaghetti in salted boiling water 10 – 12 minutes before the hour is up.
This yields two big portions or 3 medium sized portions.
Also good served on a baked potato with crème fraîche for lunch the next day.