The great Gourmet spag bol poll

May 20, 2009

spagbolpollThis month’s Australian Gourmet Traveller mag is the annual Italian issue, and its focus is the grand dame of pasta, spaghetti Bolognese.

Best of all, the mag quizzed 60 Australian chefs about how they cook their spag bol, and the results of this poll are riveting. Is it just me who’s surprised that the traditional dish contains cream or milk? And that a very good proportion of these chaps use lamb as well as veal, beef and pork? Other surprise ingredients are goose fat (augghhh, insert Homer Simpson drool noise here),  star anise, porcini powder, fish sauce (yes, really), calf brain and sweetbreads – and much more. 

Anyhoo, the whole thing complete with all 60 recipes is on the Gourmet Traveller website now. Makes for great reading. Also makes me want to buy a mincer – have any of you ever minced meat by hand? My mum had one of those old winding-handled jobs, but I can barely remember her using it. Anyone done it? Reports please!


  1. Yes, I got a mincer for my 40th birthday! It’s all I wanted and Silas wouldn’t buy it because he thought it an inappropriate present so some pals did instead. It’s great but a bit of a palaver and you have to be careful not to use meat with too much connective tissue or it jams up the works. Come over and play with it some time.

  2. I’ve cooked it many different ways and many times (who hasn’t?), but have you tried the Ragu Bolognese from Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’, originally published in 1954?
    In my old Penguin paperback edition, it’s page 291.
    Try minced beef, chicken livers, bacon, carrot, onion, celery, tomato puree, white wine, stock, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

  3. Ooh yes Steph, perhaps I will have a play with your mincer – except aren’t all the extra-good animal bits these chefs talk about full of connective tissue – ears, shins, etc? So praps no use, maybe you have to chop those ones yourself.

    And Jamie – sounds good. Chicken livers were mentioned frequently in the bol poll too. I just hate faffing around trimming those little blighters. Or is there some easy way to deal with them?

  4. Food processor does the job long as you cut the meat into small pieces beforehand. In fact, the old breville cyclonic whizz (yes, that’s what they called it) does EVERYTHING. Still going strong after 20 years – they made those babies to last back then.

  5. I can’t think of a mincer without disturbing flashbacks to the film ‘Delicatessen.’ But I luuuuurve spag bol… that list of unexpected ingredients is absolutely fascinating.

  6. I have always used fish sauce in my spag bol. It’s a great salt substitute but with extra flavour. I also use a bit of honey. Bit of the sweet and sour effect, I guess. A tad Eastern-inspired, I guess, though I hadn’t thought of it that way until now… (Also interested to know which vegies are considered ‘acceptable’ in spag bol. Just celery, mushrooms and carrots? Will definitely be checking this out.)

  7. I don’t want to diss the excitement that has been raised over the mincer…the way that I see it, it’s life pre-mincer or post!
    However all this talk of what goes into a “bog”, it reminded me of a recipie that a great chef friend once showed me. It was a hand cut veal bog…everything cut to about a 1cm dice, so onion, garlic, celery pancetta, veal, thyme, bay leaf (the usual suspects). Lightly flour the diced veal, and brown in hot pan with olive oil, remove and put on kitchen paper. In the same pan on a low heat add the pancetta, then celery and onion with the thyme and bay leaf, then the garlic. Then put the veal back in, add some white wine and chicken or veal stock to cover and simmer until tender.
    To finish a handful of choped parsley and reggiano, a knob of butter and a little splash of cream….I forgot to mention getting the seasoning of salt and white pepper earlier on, and then adjust before serving. This dish works alot better with fresh pasta rather than dry!

  8. Rachel, you will be surprised to see that the chefs polled tend to HATE mushrooms … and carrot is the subject of some debate if I recall correctly.

    Hamish – no tomato?? Sounds pretty delicious but surely it needs some red? Amazing how much variation there is, isn’t it.

    And on another matter – the goggles are yours, baby!

  9. […] is quite a simple but decadent dish to serve when you want something fancier than spag bol. And with the addition of the mushrooms, it becomes even richer and more velvety. What’s not […]

  10. […] made two of Karen Martini’s amazing seafood pies and a huge batch of spag bol for some family friends who are having a rough few weeks. The rough puff pastry for the pies was […]

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