Friday, March 12, 2010

No Pigeon, Chicken Nugget Spag Bol

Sorry if you like to be told exactly what to do. This is not that kind of recipe, I like what I list here to form a collaborative process of cooking. You add what you like and I’ll make some suggestions for the foundations but the rest is in your own hands. So you may notice a wishy-washy discretionary ingredients list below but that is because I want you to insert yourself into this recipe rather than following to the letter, what I think is best. Of course there are times when this won’t suffice and you will have to follow a recipe to the letter but I think that is usual when making complex cakes, where any alteration may mean a flatten sponge etcetera etcetera etcerera.


2 tablespoons of olive oil

About 500 grams of mince beef

The usual herbs you like, I have used two tablespoons of;

Fresh Chives

Fresh Parsley

One teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs out of a jar.

One jar of passata or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste combined with one can of Italian Tomatoes

2 Cloves of garlic

1 small Spanish onion, finely diced

4 button mushrooms (just the proletariat variety, no truffle oils roam here).

1 -2 shallots finely diced

1 spring onion, finely diced.

1 stock cube. As you might have noticed, I do not cook anything without stock. Obviously stock on its own is not nice to taste but in combination with the baser ingredients, it provides an enhancement that is absent without it.

1 tablespoon McCormick Cheesy Pasta seasoning.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

1 teaspoon of chilli flakes.

Long spaghetti pasta. The sauce binds and works magically with other types of pasta and especially thick rice noodles, for a bit of fusion, to use a cliché.

Finally if you like your spaghetti bolognaise topped with cheese, make sure you use parmesan you can shave yourself, not that powdered ‘UHT’ parmesan that never goes off. I call it UHT parmesan because like its milk cousin, it never does not require refrigeration.


1. Heat oil in pan, once hot, drop the garlic, onion, shallots and spring onion into it and let it sizzle. The sizzle is important because that’s what allows the release of flavours from these core flavouring-releasing ingredients. Keep some spring onion for garnishing purposes, or garnish according to your taste. After the initial sizzle, lower heat and allow these ingredients to brown.

2. Add meat and letting it cook and brown for about 5 minutes.

3. Add all herbs (reserving some for later garnishing purposes, if you wish) to the meat.

4. Add passata or other tomato based ingredients that will make up your bolognaise sauce. Low heat and let the sauce simmer, while also allowing it to cook the meat thoroughly.

5. Add stock, stir.

6. Add mushrooms and stir through. Keep the heat at medium, cover and let it simmer.

7. Add McCormick seasoning.

8. Add chill flakes.

9. While the sauce is cooking, fry some frozen chicken nuggets in a pan. There is usually no need to add oil during this process, as frozen food gives off enough oil on its own to sustain the frying. Once the nuggets have cooked (usually takes me 15 minutes on medium heat), slice them into smaller bit. The ones in the photos were quite simply cut into squarish quarters.

10. While the sauce is cooking, boil a pot’s worth of water and throw your pasta in it. Make sure the noodles are cooked in boiling water otherwise they will go soggy. My method of checking whether they are cooked is not elaborate, there is no throwing stuff at the ceiling or walls that will need to be cleaned later. I quite simply cool a noodle strand in cold water and then test is by eating it. Told you it wasn’t elaborate.

11. Place pasta down on a plate, pour sauce over it and top with nuggets and spring onions or chives or parmesan. Serve with salad or whatever you like.

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