Unashamedly inauthentic and a cultural touchstone, the British spag bol is a national treasure. Everyone and their mother has their own version of this home cooking classic but this is mine, adapted from my mum’s own recipe. This dish never fails to take me back to my childhood kitchen in London, reminding me of the pot bubbling away as I tried to sneakily dip pieces of torn baguette into the sauce while my mum wasn’t looking.
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
500g beef mince
175ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
10 basil leaves, ripped
50ml whole milk
Warm the oil on a low heat and gently fry the onions and garlic for around 10 minutes until the onions turn soft and transparent. There should only be the lightest colour on the vegetables.
Turn the heat up to high and crumble the beef mince into the pan. Fry, stirring often, until the meat has browned nicely. Add the wine, bring it to a boil and then reduce on a medium heat until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.
At this point you can add your tomatoes and chicken stock. Season well with salt and pepper, throw in the basil, bring to a boil and then let the sauce reduce at a low heat for around an hour and a half.
When the sauce has only a little liquid remaining, add the milk and stir to combine. Reduce the sauce again for 5 minutes until there is hardly any liquid left.
To finish, take the pan off the heat, stir in the butter and toss well with your cooked spaghetti.