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How do I give spag bol more depth/taste ?

(66 Posts)
zozzle Tue 20-Apr-10 18:55:27

Hi - I am new to the recipes section.

This is how I make spag bol but it's a bit bland (I fry it off first, bring it all to a simmer then transfer to slow cooker - on low for 3 hrs):

lean mince (I drain it after frying)
dried mixed herbs
chopped toms
tom puree
beef stock (oxo)
red or white wine
splash of worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
bit of brown sugar

+ spagetti (obviously!)

Am I missing some vital ingredient to give it more depth/taste? Any suggestions?

Thanks guys

Weegle Tue 20-Apr-10 18:57:31

I put in chopped pepperamis - it is my secret ingredient and makes my bolognaise well loved amongst friends and family grin

amidaiwish Tue 20-Apr-10 19:00:45

fry some pancetta or bacon lardons with chopped rosemary
then add chopped red onion and garlic
then add any other veg you want to (i go a bit overboard with red pepper, courgette, carrots) then once these are softened a bit add chopped mushrooms if you like

then add mince, drain if required (i use lean organic mince, never anything to drain)

then add tin of chopped tomatoes, some sundried tomatoes, some tomato puree, some dried oregano

then some beef stock


and then put in a low oven for 1 hour. mmmmmmmmm

amidaiwish Tue 20-Apr-10 19:01:14

oh i forgot the red wine, add at the same time as beef stock.

Molesworth Tue 20-Apr-10 19:01:43

A few things you could try:

- Pancetta/chopped streaky bacon (fried off at the beginning so it isn't all flabby)

- The Heston Blumenthal trick of adding a star anise (intensifies the savouriness of the meat) or add a hefty dash of thai fish sauce (does the same thing as the star anise - intensifies the umami)

- Add a parmesan rind during cooking

- I sometimes stir in a heaped tbsp of green pesto near the end of cooking

And cook for a really, really long time grin

gingertoo Tue 20-Apr-10 19:02:50

I put some finely chopped smoked bacon in mine and use plenty of basil instead of mixed herbs..

Might be a slow cooker liquid problem though. Do you end up with a very 'liquid' spag bol after the cooking time or is it quite thick? It took me a long time to get the liquid quantities right with my slow cooker and too much liquid always resulted in blander food...

DrivenToDistraction Tue 20-Apr-10 19:02:51

A square or two of very dark chocolate works a treat.

sungirltan Tue 20-Apr-10 19:03:51

i use honey instead of sugar and enough of it to take the edge off the toms but what i couldn't make it without is a big dollop of ketchup

DrivenToDistraction Tue 20-Apr-10 19:04:03

Oh, yes, missed that you were using mixed herbs. I use a two to one ratio of dried basil and oregano.

anchovies Tue 20-Apr-10 19:04:11

Make mine exactly the same way, to me the pancetta, rosemary and red wine and slow cooking make a big difference.

Molesworth Tue 20-Apr-10 19:04:26

Agree about the liquid level - water spag bol is horrible and tasteless confused

Might try the chocolate thing. I've done that with chilli and it was lovely

Molesworth Tue 20-Apr-10 19:04:50

watery not water blush

littleomar Tue 20-Apr-10 19:05:06

i think you shouldn't use lean mince - a lot of the flavour is in the fat and you're diluting what's left with the other things. you're on the right lines with frying off and long cooking but you shouldn't need stock/tomato puree/worcestershire sauce/ sugar.

if you're worried about calories/fat, then if the sauce is tastier you won't need as much (i reckon about 4 tablespoons is enough for an adult portion)

weloveyoumisshannigan Tue 20-Apr-10 19:06:14

liver is good in bolognese

cananybodyhelp Tue 20-Apr-10 19:07:22

My top tip is to really brown, almost burn the mince before adding anything else. That's how to get the most flavour - my XP was a fantastic, award winning chef and I think it's the best trick I picked up from him grin.

amidaiwish Tue 20-Apr-10 19:07:35

i always use lean mince and my spag bol is the tastiest ever!

also forgot - add chopped fresh basil just before cooking, then more on serving along with grated (fresh) parmesan.

ComeOnJemima Tue 20-Apr-10 19:08:38

1. some butter with the olive oil for frying. I suppose you're not into this if you drain the fat off but anything is nicer with butter added smile


2. some finely chopped fennel fried with the onions and carrots. Or add some ground fennel seeds with the herbs. This tip comes from my SIL who is of genuine Italian extraction so it must be authentic wink

bathbuns Tue 20-Apr-10 19:10:53

what about some harissa, if you really want a kick?

QueenofDreams Tue 20-Apr-10 19:12:42

I think the most important thing for spag bol is to simmer slowly for a long time until it goes rich and thick.
You can use bacon at the start before frying your onion and garlic.
I tend to really load in the basil and oregano in when I make it as well.

AliGrylls Tue 20-Apr-10 19:12:53

Don't drain the fat of and use full fat beef. And bacon of course.

Leave it to reduce for about an hour really slowly.

Fresh basil and fresh garlic - loads of it.

Yum. It is my favourite dish.

Phrenology Tue 20-Apr-10 19:15:16

Full fat beef, and lots of flash fried chicken livers.

Alouiseg Tue 20-Apr-10 19:17:50

Replace the OXO cube with a knorr chicken stock cube.

zozzle Tue 20-Apr-10 19:19:18

Some fabulous suggestions here thanks everyone! Will definitely enjoy trying them and creating a culinary masterpiece wink.

Thanks again for the top tips...

foureleven Tue 20-Apr-10 19:19:46

ll of the above but also, are you grating the onion and carrot? I chopped for years until I hear that gordon grates.... That might be a bit elementary for you guys blush

Katisha Tue 20-Apr-10 19:20:43

We like the Carluccio recipe where you use both beef and pork mince. Fry it hard first.

But yes - cook for ages.

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