Sometimes in life, all we want to satisfy our hunger is something simple and comforting. We all have our favourite, no-frills meals that we can enjoy time and time again, whether it’s fish and chips, spaghetti bolognese or something else.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t play around with classic dishes in new and exciting ways. After all, variety is meant to be the spice of life, isn’t it? So, to help you get even more out of your favourite meals, here are three twists on classic recipes to enhance the gifts that keep on giving.
Spaghetti bolognese > Lamb ragù
There’s nothing quite like the moment you first tuck into a steaming hot bowl of pasta tangled with mince and a rich and smooth bolognese sauce. Comforting, hearty and oh-so-tasty, it’s no wonder it’s previously been voted the UK’s favourite comfort food.
Don’t tell the Italians though. According to former Bologna mayor Virginio Merola, spaghetti bolognese does not exist and is in fact “fake news”, a view that is shared by Italians all over. Put simply, it is a foreign twist on a traditional ragù alla Bolognese – in Italy, it’s more common to see ragú served with thicker pasta shapes like tagliatelle.
And there are so many other twists on ragù you can try. We believe that lamb ragù might even outdo spaghetti bolognese altogether. With an extra sumptuous sauce and more succulent meat for its centrepiece (it calls upon slow-cooked lamb shoulder instead of beef mince), the meal is actually closer to the dishes you’ll find in Italy itself. So, how do you whip up your own version of the quintessential Italian ragù instead?
- 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Two large carrots, finely sliced
- One large onion, finely sliced
- One medium red bell pepper, finely sliced
- Four ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
- One pound boneless lamb shoulder, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
- 3/4 cup dry red wine
- One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch or larger pieces
- One cup of chicken stock
- One bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- One pound rigatoni
- Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
- In a medium casserole dish, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
- Cook the carrots, onion and red bell pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown. This should take around 12 minutes. When cooked, transfer the vegetables onto a plate.
- Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in the casserole dish, before adding the pancetta and stirring once or twice over high heat until sizzling. Then cook the lamb for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is browned.
- Return the vegetables to the dish. Pour in the red wine and simmer until evaporated, before adding the tomatoes and their juices, the chicken stock, bay leaf and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper and bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to low, partly cover and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender. Take out the bay leaf before serving.
- Cook the pasta until al dente in well-salted boiling water. Drain and combine with the ragù, serving with the cheese.
Haddock and chips > Swordfish and chips
Made famous by Brits (with the meal believed to have originally been invented by Portuguese or Spanish Jews), fish and chips is considered one of the UK’s signature dishes and is among its most popular takeaway options. Although there are no hard and fast rules regarding which fish to use in the dish, cod and haddock are the most common options.
But why should we be constrained by convention? After all, fish is fish, and with so many different kinds out there, adding a little twist to this meal with a new type can help keep fish and chips from becoming stale — not literally, we hasten to add. That’s exactly why we’re bringing you a swordfish and chips recipe. Swordfish is known for its sweet taste, making it ideal for those who don’t like an overpowering fish flavour.
- Two big pieces of swordfish
- Salt and pepper
- Thyme (dried)
- Two to three potatoes
- ½ an onion
For the batter
- 80 grams flour
- 60 ml dark beer
- One egg
- One tsp salt
- Two tbsp plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- One lemon
- Make the batter by whisking the ingredients together until creamy, before letting it rest for 30 minutes or so.
- In the meantime, slice each piece of fish in half and season them with salt, pepper and thyme.
- Wash the potatoes with the skin on, and slice into wedges. Cut the onion into rings.
- Deep fry the potatoes over low heat (around 160°C), before turning the heat up to 180°C to make them crispy once they’re cooked through. Season the chips with salt while they are still hot.
- Coat the fish in the batter, before deep-frying them for roughly six minutes in 170°C oil. Do the same for the onion, turning the heat up at the end to make them crispy.
- Serve on a plate, garnishing with a wedge of lemon.
Jacket potato > Asian-inspired sweet potato with chilli and garlic tuna infusions
Typically served with fillings like butter, cheese, baked beans and tuna, the humble jacket (or baked) potato has likely been around for millennia. In England specifically, the popularity of jacket potatoes surged in the 19th century, with street vendors selling them in the colder months which coincided with the harvest season. Buyers would use the piping hot potatoes as a way of warming their hands before eating them.
However, with the world of food constantly evolving, here we present to you an Asian twist on the classic jacket potato.
- Three cans of John West Infusions Tuna – chilli & garlic (80g)
- Four medium sweet potatoes
- 25g butter
- One small red onion, finely chopped
- Five radishes, thinly chopped
- One lime, sliced into wedges
- Three tbsps Greek yoghurt
- Fresh coriander
- Watercress to serve
- Preheat your oven to 190°C / Gas Mark 5.
- Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, before baking for about 50 minutes or so.
- Chop the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides, being careful not to break the skins. Then, put the skins back into the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes until crisp.
- Mix the butter into the sweet potato insides, before seasoning with salt and pepper and spooning them back into the potato skin. Warm through in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the infused tuna, radish and red onion. Top the sweet potato with it, as well as a dollop of Greek yoghurt. Scatter over the coriander and add a squeeze of lime and the watercress.