It’s hard to remember when I started to cook. I know that when I was young it was all about chicken dippers and chips, so it wasn’t a childhood thing. I remember when I first moved away from home, I thought that chicken and rice with a korma “sizzle and stir” sauce counted as proper cooking, so it certainly wasn’t before then! It was probably towards the end of university.
If I think back to the first thing I cooked from scratch, a stuffed chicken breast comes to mind. It was from one of those paperback student cookbooks. The chicken was stuffed with cream cheese and red pepper then wrapped in bacon and cooked in the oven with wine. When it was done, more cream cheese was mixed with the wine to make a sauce. Voila – a restaurant worthy meal to impress your friends!
That was in 2004 and thankfully I must have decided to expand my repertoire beyond the student cookbook range as I remember getting the Nigella Lawson Forever Summer cookbook at around the same time.
When I cooked this recipe for a lamb based version of spaghetti bolognese it was a bit of a revelation. A vast improvement on my usual version made with a jar of Dolmio sauce and it was really easy to make.
Since then, as you can see from the state of the cookbook, I have probably cooked this dish about 50 times. I would imagine I’ve cooked it for almost every single one of my friends at some point.
I know the recipe off by heart and although I generally tinker with recipes over time, I have never felt the need to make a single change to this one. It’s perfect.
For 4 portions you will need:
500g lamb mince
2 tins tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 tbspns dried oregano
250ml red wine
1 tbspn caster sugar
1 tbspn tomato purée mixed with 2 tbspns milk
200g feta cheese
It is so simple to make. First whiz together the garlic, onion, mushrooms and half the oregano then cook slowly for 10 minutes. Add the mince and brown. Add the wine and bubble. Add the rest of the ingredients (excluding spaghetti and feta) and stir. Season and bring to the boil.
Cook over a low heat for at least 30 mins then serve with the spaghetti and crumble the feta on top.
I think the feta is the key to this dish. It’s really rich from the red wine and tomatoes and sweet from the sugar so the feta adds a perfect salty touch.
If you do decide to give it a whirl, come back and tell me what you think. Would love to know whether you love it as much as I do.
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