This post is part of the Family Favourite campaign, sponsored by Love Pork.
When it comes to cooking for the family it can be really hard to find meals that everyone will enjoy.
My children have both been quite fussy eaters at different times, and it can still be hard to get them to eat new foods. One meal that we’ve started making recently though looks like it might be a winner.
Steve makes a delicious spaghetti bolognese that we both love, and so does Rhys. And Nerys even said she liked it when she tried it so I’m hopeful that one day soon we can all eat it together.
The recipe we use is one that Steve has been playing around with and adapting for a few months now, and is based on a traditional ragu.
We made it with pork mince last week and it was absolutely delicious.
If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you’ll need:
- 500g pork mince
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped or grated
- 5 mushrooms, chopped
- 1 courgette, chopped or grated
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 2/3 tube tomato puree
- Mixed herbs
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp yeast extract
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 litre stock
- Small glass of white wine, ideally dry
- 1 bag of baby spinach
- 250ml whole milk
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and then add the pork mince. Cook the mince until it is just starting to brown, breaking it up a little with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
2. Once cooked through tip the mince into a sieve over another pan or bowl, to drain off any fat. If you use lean mince then there won’t be much fat at all to drain off. Then you can just put it to one side while you cook the vegetables.
3. Add a small knob of butter to the pan you cooked the mince in.
4. Over a medium heat cook the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, courgette and garlic.
5. Keep stirring the veg until it’s all cooked through and softened.
6. Add the tomato puree and stir through the veg.
7. Add the mince back into the pan and stir into the vegetables.
8. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Add the wine, and then the stock to the pot and stir well.
10. Add mixed herbs (about a tablespoon), honey, yeast extract and mustard.
11. Keep on a low heat and stir as the sauce reduces.
12. Once the sauce has reduced add the milk and spinach, then cook for another 20 minutes.
13. Towards the end of the cooking time put your spaghetti on to cook.
14. Serve the spaghetti with the bolognese and top with grated Parmesan, black pepper and mixed herbs.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can really do whatever you like with it.
You can chop all of the vegetables up really small to create a more hidden-veg type sauce. We chop the veg pretty small when we make it, and grate the carrots, and you’d be lucky to be to pick out any pieces of vegetable once it’s cooked.
If you’d rather though you can chop everything more roughly and have a chunky vegetable bolognese.
As far as the vegetables go you can play around with the amounts that you put in and the types of vegetables that you include to suit your family’s tastes. You could use different types of mushrooms, add in some mixed peppers or even try some chopped aubergine in there.
If you have a bit more time to give to this meal you can also do what we do some weeks and cook it nice and slowly.
We use a dutch oven to cook our bolognese on the hob following the instructions up to stage 11. Then we add the spinach and then transfer the pot to the oven to reduce and thicken up. It sits in the oven at about 100 degrees for 3 hours, before we take it out, give it a good stir and add the milk. Then we pop it back in the oven for another hour to reduce down again.
What I really love about this recipe is that it’s so tasty you forget how much veg is crammed in there, and you have the benefits from the meat too.
Not only can pork be lean, but it’s naturally rich in protein, low in salt and provides ten essential vitamins and minerals that supports good health and wellbeing. These are: thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and pantothenic acid.
With the pork mince as a base you can change up the flavour of this recipe by using different herbs and spices. And the ragu is a great, easy thing to make that can be used in so many different ways.
It can be served with any kind of pasta, made into a lasagne or put into a cottage pie. It’s also a great recipe to make in bulk, just increase the amounts of all the ingredients. Then you can freeze portions ready for a quick, delicious meal another day.
Disclaimer: I’m working in a paid relationship with Love Pork and BritMums highlighting family favourites, but all recipes and opinions are my own.