Fearless Noodles

Hey folks, it’s sunday and I believe that I owe you a recipe.

Now, normally, this would be my christmas recipe, what with it being the winter holiday season, but I haven’t felt particularly inspired, on that front, this year. So, instead, I have a little something that I was asked to share with you all. My little christmas present to you, if you will.

This is mark two of my udon bolognese, as I like to call it, made with Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Firemite. Giving it a serious dark depth and throaty warmth, which makes it even more of a satisfying winter meal than last time.

So what are you waiting for?

To make this version, you will need:

100g minced pork (or beef or lentils)

400g (2 packs) udon noodles

1 tin tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 onion

1 large, red, heatless pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1½ tablespoons Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Firemite spread

3 bayleaves

Parmesan to taste

And, if you’re not sure where to get udon from, check the more asian or international sections of your local supermarkets. Because this type of noodle is surprisingly common and most of mine have it at a remarkably reasonable price.

Or you can replace the udon with spaghetti, if you really need to, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Given that the heat retention of the ultra thick noodles is a huge part of what makes today’s dish so wonderfully hearty. Along with the full on flavour and deep, lingering burn.

Similarly, you’ll see that I’m using a long and pointy, ramiro pepper, rather than the standard bells, because I find that their subtley different and sweet flavour makes for a more enjoyable end result. But, unlike the pasta, I wouldn’t say that this substitution makes a big difference. So just use whatever red pepper you can get your hands on.

Simply make sure that you chop it nice and fine, in order to keep each and every mouthful comfortably bitesize. Then cut the onion and garlic to match and set the lot aside, for a moment, while you brown off the mince.

We’re going to do that first, this time, because the Firemite removes any need for tomato purée and I’m worried that the garlic and onion might burn if we follow the old method without it. So, instead, we’re going to heat up oil in a pan on a high flame and fry the mince solo, for three to five minutes. Or until it looks like this:

Then we can set it aside, keeping warm like in my original recipe, and spend five minutes frying the onion and garlic similarly, yet on a more medium heat. Though it might also be worth letting the pan cool, just a little, to ensure that it really is only medium.

Once the onions have gone translucent and the garlic is just starting to turn golden, at the edges, toss in the pepper pieces and keep going for three minutes more. Before stirring through both the mince and the herbs to ensure that the meat takes up all of the flavours.

When you’re confident that everything is evenly coated, quickly toss in the tomatoes, stir through the Firemite and chuck in half a cup (120ml) of water, so that our sauce doesn’t over thicken. You can even use the tomato tin to measure this last ingredient, if you’d like, in order to save on washing up and ensure that you get the last of the juices.

Again, stir to combine and then all that remains is to bring your pan to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes. During which I’d suggest also bringing a second pan, filled with nothing more than salted water, to the boil, in order to cook your noodles at the same time.

If your udon are the same fresh packed sort as mine, they should only take three minutes to cook but they’ll need a nice, rolling boil to do so. And reaching that can take time.

What it doesn’t take, however, is any of the effort that I previously put in to separate the tomatoes from their juice or prepare a special broth. Because, quite frankly, all of that is completely unnecessary when your sauce packs as much of a full on flavour punch as this version does. With the added yeast extract boosting its umami to the extreme and that little bit of extra water providing just enough juice to coat the noodles.

In fact, I’m not even convinced that the meat is necessary, with how much of an oomph Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Firemite brings to this dish, and you could very easily make a vegan version by using pre-soaked lentils for the texture.

But here’s what mine looks like:

And here’s what it looks like when I put the whole dish together:

a spoonful or two of that sauce stirred through the noodles before using the rest as topping for two of these bowls. And, of course, finishing it all off with a light dusting of parmesan cheese.

This one’s sure to keep you warm through those long winter nights with a surprisingly high

throat burn, building throughout the meal and working with the noodles’ own heat to form a long-lasting and oh so satisfying kick that somehow comes across even stronger than the Firemite itself. Yet sits in the background, behind the rich, umami-laden tomato sauce and the heavy hit of herbs that offset its meatiness.

I’m proud of this new recipe and very glad that I let people talk me into sharing it with you.

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