South Park Self

but then my train of thought was interrupted by a small, yet angry, cobra

I can't remember if I've linked to the 2011 Lyttle Lyttons before, but I have now. Much innocent glee to be had.

By way of being completely irrelevant either to the previous paragraph or to the subject line (other than in strict dadaist terms), I shall now proceed to blog for posterity my recipe for Spaghetti Bolognaise. This is both to enable SpagBol-loving friends in their own SpagBollular endeavours, and to strike a blow against my increasingly erratic memory, i.e. it's entirely possible that I'll forget how I make it if I don't document it. Also, eccentric recipes with way too much directive detail are incredibly good fun to write up. Please note that this is officially Spag Bol, not Spaghetti Bolognaise, and it's all friendly_shrink's fault.


SPAG BOL

PHILOSOPHICAL PREAMBLE: too many people don't do the right things to mince. As far as I'm concerned, doing the right things to mince includes (a) using ostrich rather than beef (leaner, much better flavour, doesn't encourage cow-production and global warming), (b) browning it properly (grey mince is vile), and most importantly (c) including not only lots of vegetable matter, but enough liquid. Mince dishes should be gloppy. Dry mince is an abomination unto Nuggan.

You need:
  • 1 500g pack of ostrich mince.
  • One or two onions, I prefer red.
  • Two tins of tomato of any description. I like the tomato with garlic, or with basil and oreganum, but you can use tomato/onion or the one with chilli or whatever grooves your ploons. You can also use fresh tomatoes, but you'll need 5 or 6 nicely ripe ones.
  • At least four rashers of reasonably fatty bacon. You have no other fat sources in this dish, really, so can afford to be non-healthy.
  • GARLIC! lots of it.
  • A couple of large carrots (three or four is good).
  • Half a punnet of mushrooms, preferably brown ones or portabellini.
  • A red or green pepper.
  • At least one sachet of tomato paste.
  • A generous couple of glasses of red wine.
  • An oxtail stock cube.
  • Your Seekrit Ingredient, a heaped teaspoon of Bisto, and there will be no heckling from purists, please. It works.
  • Something sweet, either a tablespoon of brown sugar or one of chutney - I prefer hot or chilli chutney.
  • Random seasoning to taste - salt and pepper, certainly, but also and optionally dried or fresh oreganum, ginger, cloves, coriander, whatever.

So, you chop the bacon up reasonably small, and hoy it into a large pan or pot to fry. It should produce lots of lovely bacon fat. If it shows a tendency to stick, fling in some olive oil to show it the way.
Then you turn the heat up to high, and throw in the ostrich mince. You are going for browning it here, and it'll try and stick, so scrape it around with a wooden spoon occasionally. After about five minutes it should be starting to separate and go grey. Give it a stern, repelled glare, and sprinkle the Bisto over it. Stir. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until it's actually started to brown, about 10 minutes. (It never does brown properly, you're going to fake actual gravy with stock and tomato).
Chop the onions, chop the garlic finely, fling both into the mince. Stir, cook for a few minutes. Grate the carrots on the large holes in a cheese grater, and fling in. Stir, cook for a few minutes. Are you sensing a theme here?
Turn the heat down to low-to-middle, and add the two tins of tomato and the tomato paste. The bolognaise should should start to glop nicely now. Bung the oxtail stock cube into one of the empty tins and half fill with boiling water. Stir the resulting stock to remove cube lumps, and add to the bolognaise. Stir, assess your relevant level of gloppiness, and fling in a generous couple of splashes of red wine. The sauce should be quite liquid and soupy. If you're not using chutney, add the brown sugar now - tomato-based sauces really need the sweetness to bring out their flavour and cut the acidity.
Now you turn the heat right down to low and leave the glop-monster to bubble quietly, with a lid half on it, until it's simmered down to a slightly less liquid form. At this stage you can chop the mushrooms and peppers fairly small and add them to the mix; they'll cook through in about twenty minutes, so aim to serve just after this time.
Before serving, stir in the chutney, if you haven't already added sugar, to taste, and stuff around with salt, pepper, dried herbs, fresh herbs, random Worcester sauce, whatever else you need to bring the mix up to optimal taste levels. If you've cooked off too much liquid, add more red wine.
Serve with spaghetti, grated parmesan, and a green salad. I like to stir chopped fresh sweet basil into the spaghetti just before serving, the flavour is rather lost if you add it directly to the sauce.
friendly_shrink can eat approximately her own bodyweight of this recipe, despite having in general terms the appetite of a small bird, so you can take that as an endorsement if you like.

While on the subject of complete non sequitur, my copy of the Season 5 of Doctor Who (the first 11th Doctor season) has just arrived. khoi_boi, is that the one your wife is dying to watch? come and grab it, if so - I'm still in computer game rather than tv-watching mode and won't get to it for a while. Also, Capetonian witterers please to be recommending good ethnic restaurants in the city? I have a Salty Cracker choice to make, and have a yen for something hearty like Indian or Mexican or Spanish or suchlike.
  • Current Mood: confused slightly dadaist
  • Current Music: Manic Street Preachers
I read/heard/telepathically acquired somewhere that additions to meat dishes should be the same sort of size as the meat. So stews with big chunks of meat can handle big chunks of veg, but mince needs all veg sliced small. This struck me as a brilliant revelation.
I dunno, it kinda depends. In general I'd agree, but I quite like a spag bol with recognisable chunks of mushroom and red pepper in an otherwise homogeneous meat sauce thingy. More texture, or something.
It depends
I think it depends on the cooking method. Things being all the same size only matters if you want all the food bits cooked at the same time without anything turning to mush (like with a potjie) but with spagbol it's nice if the veg is still intact and the meat has turned to mushy sauce.
Recommendations
We like Vintage India in the Gardens Centre. Real Indians eat there, so you know it's good. A very wide selection of noms.

There's a place in Bree Street called Bird's Cafe that does Spanish food. When I was there they had this really wierd black squid ink paella thing. Urgh. Others liked it, ymmv :)
Re: Recommendations
Hee. Various reviews suggest that Vintage India is enormous and usually very empty, and thus might actually be no more than a front for the Indian Mafia. We therefore have to go there instantly ;>.

Thanks for the tips, appreciated!
I always use marmite...to the same affect as Bisto...to make the meat a nice colour, adds a salty flavour and vitamins are my friends :-)
I am extremely fond of Marmite on toast, which is possibly why I have an almost religious objection to sticking it into sauces or stews. I am cheerfully ready to admit that this is a bit weird, I'm sure it works beautifully.
Marmite in the sauce was a trick I learnt from my mum. It has been handy on many occasions when my similar fondness for Marmite means it is always in the pantry, where as my buying of stock cubes is erratic :-)
I used to be a Vintage India fan, but after eating there recently, definitely not. Bukhara would be a better bet.

Naksaeng Korean Happy Kitchen in Sea Point does great food. You're allowed to remove shoes and sit on the floor if you want to, and make use of a portable grill to fry chunks of bacon. Also kimchi. Did I mention frying your own bacon?

I've heard good and bad things about Casa San Julian "authentic Mexican". My sisters-in-law nommed there and enjoyed it, but online the reviews are a bit hit and miss. Everyone agrees, however, that their Margaritas are the dog's bollocks.
The food was just meh. Starters were okay, but the mains pretty disappointing. Maybe it was an off night.

If it's Indian your after, also consider Masala Dosa in Long Street. They do southern Indian food as opposed to the usual mughlai-style northern Indian that almost all western Indian restaurants do. It's a lighter, fresher style with a lot less meat.