Sunday Night Spag Bol

There is nothing nicer than something bubbling away on top of the stove on a Sunday evening. When I was small, Sunday evenings were the pits. I would watch the Donnie and Marie Show and then cry, every single Sunday of the term. Donnie and Marie meant that Monday morning – and school – was nigh. The horror! But now I like Sunday evenings. Is it because Monday morning and school is nigh? Possibly! But I also like the nesting feeling; the last moments of quiet and calm before the busy week begins, the turning on of the lamps, the kitchen radio playing, the kids are well rested and usually involved in some game, or drawing or watching a beloved movie on the couch, finally without screeching at one another. And so the cheerful burble and the delicious smells of something in the big pot fits into all of that.

Lately, that big pot is filled with bolognese sauce on a Sunday, which we serve up for dinner and then freeze the rest. It’s so easy and so delish! Until early this year my bol sauce consisted of meat + a jar of Paul Newman’s. Not very posh really. Wanting a change, I had done a little research (well, I opened Stephanie’s encyclopedia of cooking) and felt that inward lazy sigh when I looked at the list of ingredients… it looked very good but I wanted something quick –  a step up from the meat + Paul’s, but quick just the same. While we were holidaying up in Sydney in January my Sister-in-Law defrosted two tubs of her bolognese sauce and it was so good. So good! And she assured me that it was very easy and exceptionally freeze-able. I copied out the recipe pronto – it’s a Ragu recipe from Delicious magazine — and I can’t find a copy of it online and I didn’t note down which issue it was from … but I have fiddled with it now anyway. Here’s what I do:

Sunday Night Spag Bol

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove (or more) of garlic, minced
500 g beef mince (ground beef)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3/4 cups (180 ml) beef stock (or half red wine)
2 x 400 g cans diced (crushed or even chopped up after opening) tomatoes
1 dessert spoon of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato sauce (use my Mum’s if you can get your hands on it! It’s as rare as hens teeth).
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick fry pan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened.
Add the mince and brown well for 10 mins – making sure to break up any big lumps with a wooden spoon.
Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Add stock and stir until the stock has almost evaporated.
Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes. At this point I cover it again and let it bubble away for another fifteen minutes or so. I don’t know why – I seem to think that it makes it taste better, but I have never tried *not* doing it so I have nothing to compare it to, so let it bubble away for another 15 to 20 mins, stirring every so often so that it doesn’t stick on the bottom, and making sure it doesn’t dry out too much.

Serve on pasta with parmesan cheese and a green salad – or in lasagna. It’s pretty good in lasagna actually.

Serves 4

I usually double the batch and then divide it up into small containers and freeze it. My Sister-in-Law also suggests added grated veg to it to get the extra goodies into veg-phobic kids.

By the way – did you see the Gruffalo on the ABC a few weeks ago? We taped it and play it so much! It’s our favourite Sunday evening viewing.

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49 Responses

  1. Betty says:

    The Gruffalo was on in the UK on Christmas Day and my parents recorded it on their DVR, which my niece (their granddaughter) watched it every day until mum accidentally deleted the complete contents of the drive! The Gruffalo had to “go on holiday” as there was a gap between the deletion and it coming out on DVD. Fortunately the Gruffalo has come back from his holiday and has been restored to daily viewing!

  2. innerpickle says:

    Loved loved loved the Gruffalo!! WISH I’d taped it. If we had such a device in the house! Also LOVE your illustration. Really gorgeous.

  3. Screamstress says:

    Every so often I stumble upon a blog that hits a chord with me, and your Sunday night bolognese sounded so delicious yet familiar. I’ve really enjoyed scrolling through your blog! And I love the illustration, kinda looks like me and my ducklings at our family dinner table.

  4. Poppy says:

    Hey Claire,years ago, I tried your chocolate cake recipe, the `if you’ve got cake you’ve got friends’ cake. I accidentally misread the recipe and used full cream instead of full cream milk, and I must say, that cake, baked with cream instead of milk, is a family winner.

  5. Lovely stuff, and the illustration is gorgeous! I cook spag bog and add red wine to it, also balsamic vinegar adds a certain something. The longer you cook this dish, the more interesting the flavour. It’s great for sneaking vegetables in! Mushrooms are great too, chopped ups small and cooked with the other vegetables.I could go on and on for ages about this, but I’d better stop.

  6. Kirsty says:

    I loved Sunday when I was a kid. It was always soup, toast fingers & Disney for me. xI love the illustration of your fam & the pot o love.

  7. librarygirl says:

    Wednesday night ( my 5.30 finish day at work) is our spag bol night. Nothing easier for dinner – I make it the night before.

  8. lovely to see a new Loobylu illo :)and YAY for bolognese. i will never tire of it. and i do enjoy making it too… it’s one of those dishes that seems impressive but really just requires a bit of chopping and stirring. and i love that everyone has their own method. i put brown sugar in mine too!

  9. Felixius says:

    I love Sunday nights in winter. So cold! Spag Bol would be perfect to get under the doona on the couch with the family and have dinner in front of the TV.I can’t help pick up from where Carolyn left off. Since it is a Sunday, the last thing you want to do is prepare too much… so if you have a blender… add carrots, celary, a tea or table spoon of ‘italian spices’ (or at least dried rosemary) and a can of tuna (or a little fish sauce) on top of Carolyn’s mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Blend away and chuck it all into your mix.

    Feels like Winter in Melbourne today…

  10. Cassandra says:

    Thanks for sharing Claire. Love the illo too! To my Spag Bol sauce I often throw in grated carrot and zucchini and a can of red kidney beans too. Makes it go a bit further and adds a bit of “health” benefit.xx.CLe bb est encore dedans..due next week, eeeek!

  11. Felicia says:

    Your posting gave me a giggle as I also used to dread a Sunday night for the same reason. For me as a kid it was soup & ’60 Minutes’. Mum used to make soup from whatever was leftover in the fridge (my most dreaded meal as a kid) & 60 minutes was the only thing on TV – such a drag! It is funny because as an adult I enjoy making & eating soup (must be turning into my mum), but my husband doesn’t believe soup is a ‘meal’ and always groans when I say it is for dinner. I often tease him by saying “Well tonight it’s soup & 60 Minutes”

  12. Salihan says:

    That recipe looks yummy! I tried Curtis Stone’s recipe that you get free from Coles and it was pretty bland. I’m going to try yours next time and add eggplant and carrots. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  13. Emjie says:

    Oh, I have got to try that recipe. I have been dying for spag bog.Now that the nights are cooler, we will be getting back into homemade soup. I’ll pull out the recipe for our soup and share it with you sometime.

  14. Julie says:

    We loved The Gruffalo too! It was so true to the book. I’m not sure who loved it more… us or the kids.

  15. Can I come to your place on a Sunday night? It sounds so nice and cosy.

  16. naomi says:

    funny that. I have always made my own spag bol from scratch until I had my last baby and a friend brought round a pot of hers. It was so good I asked for the recipe, and was surprised to find it was a jar of Paul’s! We have now added it to the shopping list.And the Gruffalo was brilliant! It’s on iView for a few more days for anyone who missed it.

  17. Teresa says:

    Where would we be without the spag bol?I also do big batches every 3 or 4 weeks to divvy up and freeze. I like to have some diced carrot and celery in the mix so I feel vaguely virtuous and I think if you have an afternoon where you’re going to be at home it’s well worth starting early so it can simmer gently for a couple of hours – it seems to make a big difference to both texture and flavour. I’m happy to try the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms, but draw the line at tuna and fish sauce – guess I’m not that adventurous!

  18. beci orpin says:

    how good was the guffalo! i almost died!!!!! particularly the field of dandelions! luckily my children shared my joy also. smart move taping it – i am currently on a hunt for copy x

  19. Sunday supper for me as a kid consisted of beef butties leftover from the Sunday roast and watching the Muppet show, then when the Mater mind Music came on my Dad would sing “bedtime” to it!!Your recipe sounds lovely, I’m no domestic goddess and definitely into quick meals and thank Jamie O for his ‘lovely easiness but looks impressive’ recipes! I’ll print it out and try it Thank you:)

  20. Jenni says:

    we waited with baited breath for Gruffalo, not sure how it would translate to film. Can happily say we loved it & could kick myself for not thinking of taping it. Saying that the ABC are pretty good for encore viewings.Gorgeous illustration of your meal.

  21. Gia says:

    I agree about Sundays, always got sad when I was a child, and even as an adult/ now it is sad about the work week.. Nice to hear others feel the same. Real family time with real food sounds like a good tradition on Sundays and a good resolution to the blah’s. 🙂

  22. christie says:

    yum, i’m going to try your recipe, Stephanie’s has always scared me off!we taped the gruffalo too, but I think I loved it more than the kids did!

    always love seeing you illustrate a post

  23. Jennifer says:

    I love your creativity! Your website is such an inspiration!

  24. Louise says:

    The common themes of scattered lives…..I hated Sunday nights – can’t remember a particular meal, but would often have been corned beef. The music of the Disney theme/ 60 minutes tick tick tick still evokes the same feeling of dread it brought -oh my god- 30 years ago!!!

    My husband doesn’t think soup is a meal either -what is with that!!

    And I grate the carrot and zucchini into to my double-lot bolognese which is then frozen into heaps of small portions (in bags) for the kids. (me vegetarian).

  25. Karin says:

    Try adding celeriac, bacon, carrots and a dash of muscot for that true italian vibe..

  26. Amy says:

    The Gruffalo was on in the UK on Christmas Day and my parents recorded it on their DVR, which my niece (their granddaughter) watched it every day until mum accidentally deleted the complete contents of the drive! The Gruffalo had to “go on holiday” as there was a gap between the deletion and it coming out on DVD. Fortunately the Gruffalo has come back from his holiday and has been restored to daily viewing!

  27. Danie says:

    Sunday nights. Love them. The thought of Monday mornings I am free to go to the studio! ahhhh…

  28. This recipe is very much like my mother’s recipe that I have used for years. I love it and know you are happy to be doing the real thing!! Although in a pinch, Paul Newman’s will do!! Happy Weekend eating…

  29. Can happily say we loved it & could kick myself for not thinking of taping it. Saying that the ABC are pretty good for encore viewings.Gorgeous illustration of your meal.

  30. Jen says:

    Nice bolognese recipe (we call it spag bog!). A few ideas you might want to try, that I modified our original spag bog with and the kids love it even more..- grated carrot and/or courgette (added after the tomatoes, thickens sauce and adds hidden veg)- finely diced red/green pepper (cook with the onion)- a squirt/teaspoon of marmite (add to tomatoes, yummy yum yum!)finely chopped mushrooms (thickens the sauce if you chop fine enough). – a jar of passatta (seived toms) to make it go further – particularly if you add the carrot/courgettes.

  31. Tara says:

    Just for the record,the new ABC Delicious magazine arrived in my mailbox last week and guess what…it’s the Italian issue which includes a sausage ragu recipe. Haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on the meal list for this week, I’ll keep you posted. xx

  32. cindy says:

    Oh how this took me back to the crock pot, Sundays and Winter… ops. Thanks for the “B” sauce recipe and the school day memories

  33. EmmaK says:

    Thanks so much. I tried the recipe and it turned out an amazing success with the kiddos so cheers.

  34. Emma says:

    Hi Claire!Thanks for visiting me recently and commenting about the ace knitted pants on the Golden Hands for Kids book, they would be itchy methinks!

    I use half pork mince, half beef in my spag bol, the pork adds a bit of richness (in other words fat) and without it my sauce is a little dry. Also grate some fresh nutmeg in, and add a bayleaf.


  35. Elizabeth says:

    Spag bol must be a Melbourne change-of-the-seasons thing…we are making big pots of it now too.

  36. Oh yummy….I’m going to try making this for my family :)Lovely blog-I just added you to my reader. All our good grass fed beef comes from Australia-just want to say thanks. Jana

  37. Ashlee says:

    Oooh this sounds like a great warm homely recipe. I will have to try it when I get back to Australia and am suffering from withdrawal from life in the tropics during the winter!!!

  38. Kerry says:

    This sound delicious. I grew up eating meals like this all the time, but now I have a hubby and one kid who can’t do tomatoes very often 🙁 I miss all the yummy pasta and tomato meals.

  39. Cameron says:

    I can almost smell it–thanks for sharing your recipe. Spaghetti is one of the best meals in the world isn’t it?

  40. Ammie says:

    Are you there? I hope you are doing GREAT. I was just thinking of you and missing your bloggy presence. I’ll send you some LOVE via my keyboard. 🙂

  41. Sharon Draws says:

    Lovely recipie, great illustration.

  42. Linda says:

    I haven’t visited your blog in SUCH a long time, so great to see you blogging away again! IMHO too much Spag Bol is never enough…hmmm and now I am dying for some lol! The secret ingredient to my much loved Spag Bol?? A splash of port!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  43. Clebs says:

    Hi Claire -I’ve been missing your lovely posts. Hoping that you and your sweet family and safe and sound. Looking forward to your return. 🙂

  44. Lorraine Carlton says:

    I do hope all is okay for you LoobyLou, I so miss your regular postings. May life treat you well….Lorraine

  45. Sari says:

    Loobylu, I miss you…

  46. Spag Bog… mmmmm, my fav…

  47. Camila F. says:

    Hummm…sounds yummy!!!

  48. Melinda says:

    Yum! the spag bog looks delicious. It is a favourite in our house hold too.

  49. Louise says:

    Made this tonight after you referenced it in your newsletter 🙂 Not eating it tonight though, I’ll be turning it into canneloni/lasagna during the week. But from the taste tests that I’ve been enjoying during the cooking process, it’s delicious, thank you!

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