Recently, O and I were treated to a bowl of Signor Valvasori’s outstanding bolognese (boh-lonn-yezz-eh for the purists) which started me thinking about how absolutely EVERYONE has a recipe for spag bol (for the not-so-purists). Even blokes who can’t cook anything other than toast, or students in share houses who are fresh from the nest and consider two minute noodles to be haute cuisine.
My mother has the best bolognese recipe I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve never been able to copy it exactly. I don’t know why – I make mine exactly the same as she does – but it never has the same degree of texture or flavour that it did when I was a kid. Nostalgia does funny things to taste buds.
So the Italian Signor got me thinking about how a bolognese recipe is a true signature dish – everyone has one, and everyone does it a little differently. My bolognese will always contain a diced carrot or two, bay leaves, and a hearty splash of whatever red I have at hand. I also use a sacrilegious blob of Vegemite (a trick I picked up from Mum) and a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce to give it some depth in a very un-Italian way. Often my bolognese will contain a chunk of finely chopped speck or some other kind of cured piggy. And it will always be served with Barilla No 7 and lots of cheese, preferably a good parmesan.
Il Signor uses a mixture of minced meats (he told me but I won’t give away his secrets here).
I find that the best bologneses take a long time, enough for the tomatoey flavours to blend with the meat in a long slow seduction. However bolognese is also the staple of the harassed mum, who rushes home from work and is able to produce a tasty crowd pleasing family favourite in a little under 30 minutes.
Spag bol is nothing if not versatile.
And the best part about everyone’s favourite comfort food is that the leftover sauce can be eaten on toast for brekkie the next day. There was always tension in our house the morning after spaghetti bolognese when I was growing up, as the early bird (or the oldest brother) usually got to the bowl of leftover sauce first.
What’s your bolognese secret?