On one fateful night not too long ago, Seb and I found ourselves in the bustling metropolis of Kroonstad. Surrounded by endless plains of nothingness, we felt a little sorry for this town. It was one of those obscure places that you pass on the highway, never really giving it the time of day.
Now that we were here on work though, we decided that it would only be fair to see what this town had to offer on the culinary front. “What restaurants can you recommend?” we asked the hotel manager. “Well, there’s a Spur down the road,” came his reply.
Being recommended a generic family restaurant franchise should have set off warning bells, but it did not. We decided to ignore the manager’s suggestion, and find a ‘real’ restaurant in Kroonstad instead. And we did. Bronco’s. Which, from the outside, actually seemed quite pleasant. It was only once we were inside its eerie interior (think out-dated cowboy furnishings and creepy elevator music) that we realised that this was probably a terrible, terrible mistake.
But it was too late. The waitress had already spotted us. And as we glanced around at all the empty tables, we realised we were probably her first customers in a very long time. Poor thing. We were handed our menus and quickly scoured them for the most foolproof meal we could find. Spaghetti bolognaise. Perfect. Who could possibly screw up spaghetti bolognaise?
Well, as it turns out, Bronco’s could.
Our food arrived: lumps of B-grade mince cooked in table ketchup (or so it seemed) on a bed of overcooked pasta mush. Having the stronger stomach of us two, I wolfed down both my portion and Seb’s. The smiley waitress kept checking in on us and we didn’t have the heart to send our food back.
Thirty minutes later we left the restaurant, clutching our stomachs as they groaned ominously. Seb and I looked at each other as we got into the car. No words exchanged, but with the understanding that we’d never second guess a local’s advice. Ever. Again.
Bronco’s, this recipe goes out to you.
What you’ll need:
- 1 large punnet lean mince
- 1 packet Tagliatelle, spaghetti or whatever you like
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced
- Olive oil for frying
- 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cans (the mini ones) tomato puree
- 2 heaped spoons of garlic
- 250ml red wine. I bought the cheapest bottle I could find. Worked just fine
- Basil/Italian herbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan for serving
Let’s get started:
- Heat up a large pan and add a generous glug of olive oil.
- Add the chopped onions and fry until translucent.
- Chuck in the mince and mushrooms, and fry until cooked. It will be an unappetising grey at this stage. Don’t worry.
- Add the two cans of tomato puree and stir until heated through. This will give the mince a nice rich flavour and colour. Ah, much better.
- ‘Gooi’ in the tomatoes, garlic, wine, Italian herbs and salt & pepper
- Turn the temperature down to low and leave for at least 30 minutes. The longer and slower you cook, the more flavourful your sauce will be. Just so you know.
- Come back every now and then to stir, as the bottom can catch if you’re not careful.
- At some point, boil a good amount of water in a nice big pot, and add your pasta. Cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Which means that nice balance between ‘not too firm and not too mushy’. Got it?
- Find the biggest bowl you can find and dish up. You can’t have a girl’s portion of this stuff. You just can’t.
- Top with a disgusting amount of Parmesan and enjoy!