Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Three and done: Spaghetti bolognese

Crystal mentioned to me that she had a student who lived with his dad who was always away working.  Dad left money for food but the student had no idea how to cook so lived on junk food and gummy bears, for breakfast.  The student is a nice kid, smart enough, no reason he can't learn to cook but I guess no one ever showed him.

The demise of home ec. has been well lamented elsewhere and gone are the days when it went without saying that you that learnt life skills where you lived life, at home.  This got me thinking.  I have been through my own arc of gastronomic ambition, from the 8 slices of toast and a pint of tea diet at boarding school to phoning my mum from uni to ask if I should still cook the chicken if it had gone green.  I ate a lot of frozen sausages during that period of my life.  In the last few years I've been a bit more ambitious as time and money have allowed.  But since our second kidlet was born I've reigned it in.  No more soaking beans and boiling them for a half a day; gone are the sauce reductions, the three hour dinner recipes and the 15 ingredient marinade.  Gone too is the spag bol that started with gently sauted onions and ended 45 mins later with an hour long simmer.  That has been replaced by a jar of Classico.

Out with hours, in with the minutes and with the hours have gone the cook books.  Not literally; they look nice on the shelf and I still love them and I will use them again while my teenagers are sleeping til midday on Sunday mornings.  But one has endured:  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Three Good Things.  The premise is three ingredients.  Well, three main ingredients and then all the so-called "store cupboard" standards.  So he still has you chopping onions by the pound and mincing garlic by the bulb.  Nevertheless, I hearby acknowledge Hugh's refined and sophisticated "Three" as the inspiration for my own down and dirty "Three".  The idea is, no chopping, no fiddling, no trying to figure out if this is nutritionally balanced or not.  One criteria: is it better than gummy bears.

So here it is, recipe #1 in the series "Three and done".  Spaghetti bolognese:

1lb of ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork or lamb
1 jar of Classico sauce or supermarket own brand, any flavour
300g of pasta, any type

1. Take a saucepan or a frying pan, put it on the stove and turn the knob to medium.
2.  Put the meat in.  Stir it around, break it up, wait until it all turns brown.  Should take about 8 minutes.
3.  Pour the sauce in, wait until it bubbles, then turn the heat down to low.
4.  Half fill another big saucepan with water.  Put it on the stove, turn the knob to high. When it's boiling, add the pasta, stir and turn the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes or whatever it says on the packet.  Drain in a colander or carefully holding the lid with a little gap to let the water out and not the pasta.
5.  Put the pasta in a big bowl or plate, pour the meat sauce on top.  Put some cheese on if you like.  Eat it!

This is what you need:  (1) Any pasta; (2) Ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey (3) A jar of sauce:

That's the raw meat, pink:

It's cooking but still some pink.  Wait until it's all brown:

That's the browned meat with the sauce mixed in.

There's the pasta, covered in boiling water.

And there's some grated cheese to make it extra tasty

Up next, Fried egg sandwich.  Breakfast of champions.