W e are now 10 days into the new year health drive. You haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since New Year’s eve and your fridge has all the ingredients for a daily spinach smoothie. So, enough already. You see, the irony about this idea of dieting in mid-winter is that this is precisely the time when your body craves carbs and calories to counteract the cold.
Now that the post-December guilt is wearing off, the new plan is to cave in to these cravings. And what better way to wave the white flag to weight loss than with some proper man food — that Anglo-Italian classic, spag bol.
Bolognese is easy to make but a lot of people still do it badly, so if we are going to be serious about our weight gain plan, we might as well do it properly. The key to Bolognese sauce is the sofrito. This is the mix of onions, celery and carrot which is the base for the sauce. Chop up an onion, a stick of celery and a medium-sized carrot — the finer chopped the better. Then sauté over a low heat with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of salt in a casserole for about 10 to 15 minutes with the lid on until the vegetables are softened and sweet. A crushed clove adds a nice extra background flavour to the mix.
Next, put up the heat to high and add 500g of minced beef, stir into the vegetables until the meat has browned. Then add half a glass of red wine. That will be enough to enrich the sauce so don’t get carried away because you will be drinking the rest of the bottle with dinner. Now add a 500g carton of tomato passata and a little extra water. Season with a few grinds of black pepper, put the lid on the casserole and pop into an oven pre-heated to 180°C/gas mark 4 for two hours.
There will be little to do while the sauce is cooking so I suggest you relax on the sofa with a some sweets. If you can haul yourself out of a horizontal position then check every half an hour that the sauce hasn’t dried out. If it has, add a little water and stir until it looks like the right consistency.
All that remains is to cook tagliatelle (not spaghetti) according to the packet instructions and mix into the sauce. Serve with a green salad and make sure you finish that bottle of red.