Dark evenings and chilly winds? Give the whole family a hug with a healthy Bolognese. Here’s how.
What kind of outerwear are you wearing at the moment?
No, not underwear, OUTERwear. These dark evenings, chilly winds and regular rain showers mean I’m pretty much togged up in coat and snuggly scarf most days. My umbrella is always to hand and I’ve even ventured into woolly hat and gloves territory a few times.
Not the kids though. They breeze out of the door in the morning, waving off my shouts of ‘Put a coat on!’ with a cheerful ‘I’ll be FINE, Mum!’.
When I take them out shopping for coats and jackets, they’re all enthusiasm. I always think I’ve finally cracked it. In fact, one of them has a lovely new parka that fits me a treat. And they definitely won’t miss it because they never put the damn thing on.
Which is exactly why said child arrived home last week looking like they’d done their gold lifesaving badge – you know, the one where you had to jump in the swimming pool in your pyjamas? Except they were wearing a school uniform. And there’s no swimming pool for miles. Just a Yorkshire autumn.
There was nothing for it but to squelch them into the bathroom and instruct them to strip off on the spot and wring out their uniform into the sink. Everything from jumper to pants had to go straight in the washing machine.
But there is a heartwarming element to this tale of juvenile foolishness and parental lack of authority. As the wind and rain whirled outside – and quite a lot of the rain settled in a puddle on my bathroom floor – I had a lovely pan of Bolognese on the hob.
Freshly dried and re-clothed in fluffy joggers and jumper, the ‘I don’t need a coat’ teenager was soon sitting at the table polishing off this warming bowl of comfort with obvious relish.
I felt like a proper old-fashioned mother earth type mum. Until they all cleared off onto their screens again to shoot things on Fortnite.
This is another family favourite that I cook in bulk and freeze in suitable portions. I like to slow cook this overnight but 2 hours at 160°C/140°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3 would work just as well. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, this is really a ‘bung-it-in-the-pan-and-forget-about-it’ recipe.
SERVES 8 • Ready in 2 hours (Prepared in 20 mins)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp salt
1kg lean minced beef
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 courgette, peeled and diced
2 x 400-g tins whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
250g mushrooms, washed and sliced
Generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mushroom ketchup (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
200ml red wine
Freshly ground black pepper
• Heat the oil in a very large flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and salt to the pan and fry for 5 minutes.
• Break up the mince with your hands and add to the pan. Turn the heat up a little and fry, stirring very frequently, until all the meat is broken up and no pink remains.
• Add the chopped peppers and courgette and stir in. Add the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up a little with your spoon as you do so. Add the tomato purée, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, mushroom ketchup, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, dried herbs and season with black pepper.
• Bring up to a simmer and cook on the hob, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Add the red wine and either transfer to a slow cooker for about 8 hours or put the lid on the pan and cook in an oven preheated to 160°C/140°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3 for 2 hours.
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