Spagball™ for those who say they can’t but do it anyway

Spagball – from an Irish perspective means that even if you’re a shite cook you can still manage to whip up a decent pot of stewed minced beef in tomato sauce. Well done if this is you – aknowledging a weakness but giving it a go anyway.

The beauty of this dish is that is doesn’t take a miracle to achieve good results. You don’t even need to stick to the recipe of you know what you want. Most of the “hearty comfort food” we have become accustomed to is relatively easy to make anyway. 

I say comfort food because Spagball is not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of recipes that are listed under this category that require nothing more chucking large hunks of meat, vegetables and whatever else can be found in the press fast approaching an expiry date into a large pot leaving it to bubble away gently for a few hours. The recipe below can be repeated many times or adjusted to suit your tastebuds. This is a very simple dish to make and ideal for those wheasy because the essence of time itself will do the hard work for you. Not only during the cooking process but later when left to cool. 

Should you make enough for a few days, time will allow the ingredients to marinate adding more depth and intense flavours to develop. Genuinely, food such as Spagball always tastes better on the second day. One pot wonders are very beneficial for cooking in large batches and freezing they also deliver the very best results for minimum effort. 

That being said there are still some basic but important elements that need to be applied in order to make this work correctly. Think of it as you being the architect with the blueprint and “time” is the builder that puts the necessary resources to good use. 

All of the ingredients such as meat can be sourced in a local butchers and the vegetables etc found in most Aldi stores.

The Ingredients 

500g of leans steak mince

1 white onion 

1 bulb of garlic

1 pack of mushrooms

3 peppers

1 pack of fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp of olive or coconut oil

50 ml of balsamic vinegar

1 cube of chicken stock in 500ml of boiling water

500ml of passata

1/2 tube of tomato purée

1 tsp each of paprika, chilli powder and tumeric.

Generous pinch of rock sea salt & pepper.

50g Parmesan cheese

High protein  fusilli (found in tesco) 75g is the recommended amount but feel free to adjust.

The method tried & tested

Start with heating a large pot with the oil. Add the meat and don’t be tempted to break it up. That time will come!

Keep it simple and roughly chop the veg. Make life even easier by investing in a garlic press to crush it up in a few seconds just don’t focus to much on the shape or size because they will break down when cooking anyway.

Start breaking up the meat either with a wooden spoon or the closest  utensil to hand. If the meat is still pink don’t fuss and put all the veg into the pot and mix everything around.

Salt & Pepper in now.

Leave it on a medium heat for 10 minutes.

Staying on a medium heat add the spices along with the tomato purée and mix everything. It will become very heavy and compact which is fine just ensure everything is incorporated around the pot. This only takes a minute.

Everything should begin to loosen up when the stock is added. Again when adding this don’t be fussy just get it on and give a good stirring. 

Stir in the passata and the balsamic and another pinch of salt & pepper.

Crank up the heat until it begins to boil them switch the heat back down to a simmer. Leave like this for 45 – 60 mins adjusting the temperature if it begins to boil.

When it’s done turn off the heat and have a taste – strip the basil from the stalks roughly chop and stir into the sauce.

Cook the pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

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