Let's face it; Spaghetti Bolognese is pretty much everyone's favourite comfort food ever. Mums across the land have fallen back on this tried and tested recipe for generations, a crowd pleaser for any occasion, simple enough to cook and bursting with rich, meaty flavour. There have been many different variations on the Italian-classic, some more faithful to the original eight ingredient recipe than others, and for my first real foray into the world of cooking with beer, I decided to attempt my own beery take on the traditional spag bol. I based my bolognese loosely on a recipe that appears in Mark Dredge's excellent book, 'Cooking with Beer,' with some minor alterations. For my beer, I chose a smoked brown ale, 'The Smoked Brown' from Bermondsey-based brewery Anspach & Hobday. The powerful smokey characteristics it imparts really intensifies the meaty flavour, and at 6% it also gives the dish a nice boozy edge. You could, however, as Mark suggests, use any smoked porter, or a Belgian Dubbel if you prefer a more sweet, spicy flavour.
I ate the dish with another bottle of The Smoked Brown, although any rauchbier/smoked porter would also work well.
Beer Bolognese (Serves 3-4)
500g minced meat (beer or pork is fine) 4-5 rashers bacon/pancetta (chopped) 1 large onion (roughly chopped) 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped) 150g mushrooms (sliced) 400g can chopped tomatoes 100g garden peas (frozen) 40g butter (for frying) Salt & Pepper Mixed herbs (optional) 1 bottle Anspach & Hobday 'The Smoked Brown'
- Melt half the butter in a large, wide pan. Fry the minced meat until browned and then remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining butter, and then fry the bacon for around a minute. Then add the onion and garlic. After a few more minutes, add the mushrooms and reintroduce the meat.
- Pour the tomatoes and beer into the pan, keeping it at a low temperature. Season with the salt, pepper and herbs. Add the peas and then place the lid on the pan and leave at a low temperature to cook for at least 40minutes (longer if possible). Stir occasionally and add more beer or water if necessary.
- Serve with spaghetti and a smattering of grated cheddar cheese.