James Bond recipes: Spaghetti Bolognese

At the beginning of the novel Thunderball James Bond is sent to Shrublands health farm by M for a two week stay. Bond has just had his medical and the conclusion of the Chief Medical Officer is that he is off his peak; Bond’s steady diet of martinis and cigarettes, plus his demanding job, is taking its toll on his fitness.

After finishing his fortnight of diet, massage, irrigation and Sitz baths Bond is ready for a proper meal; or, as Ian Fleming puts it, “a passionate longing for a large dish of Spaghetti Bolognese containing plenty of chopped garlic and accompanied by a whole bottle of the cheapest, rawest Chianti” and “an overwhelming desire for the strong smooth body of Patricia Fearing”. Later we learn that Bond scored “a most satisfactory left and right of Spaghetti Bolognese and Chianti at Lucian’s in Brighton and of Miss Patricia Fearing on the squab seats from her bubble car high up on the Downs”.

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 slices of bacon or pancetta
splash of milk
500g minced beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 grated carrots
1 tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 glass of red or white wine
Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the bacon or pancetta for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and garlic and fry until golden.
  2. Add the minced beef and stir until browned. Add the splash of milk and mix well.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, carrots and herbs.
  4. Use an electric blender to break down the meat and vegetable mixture into a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper, mix well then add the wine and bring to the boil.
  5. Turn down to the heat and simmer, covered, for and hour. If need be add water to the mixture and stir well.
  6. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add 125g of good quality spaghetti per person and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Serve the spaghetti and ladle on a portion of Bolognese sauce. Mix well and cover with as much grated Parmesan cheese as you like.

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