Sweet, sweet Dolly – just thinking back on our time together makes me want to cry tears of joy and thanks for having her in our lives.
If elections were held for Grand Master of the Universe today (and let’s be honest, they should be), Dolly would win by a landslide. I mean, yes Betty White would put in a good effort, but you’ve gotta back Dolly.
We first met Dolly while travelling across America; the trip went on to inspire Mark Twain to write The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and we met Dolly after fleeing a vicious lover’s quarrel with our now second favourite Twain.
Dolly embraced us with open arms and our beautiful friendship blossomed, which over time developed into a creative collaborative similar to JGL’s empire just about half a century earlier and our story boarding was hung, literally, on the (washing) line.
Not meaning to gloat, but we were heavily involved in the following hits: 9 to 5 (actually about lowering your standards), Jolene (a mutual nemesis), I Will Always Love You (obvs), Potential New Boyfriend (I was trying to convince her I could go straight), Baby I’m Burning (about a horrific STD incident), Applejack (it took Dolly a long time to clean that up from the filth I wrote. He didn’t pluck the banjo, that is for sure) and Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That (originally written as lickin’ my twat), to name but a few.
Despite our myriad of shared successes, our friendship is the shining star with Annelie and I by her side when she married Carl, there when Billy Ray asked he to be little Destiny Hope Ray Hannah Montana’s godmother and played an integral part in the inception of Dollywood.
As soon as we saw Dolly arrive, our hearts were filled with unending joy as she serenaded her way up the path to congratulate Annelie for getting into Medicine singing Dumb Blonde (oh yeah we have news, Annelie is going to be a Doctor).
Dolly was like a proud mother as we regaled her with tales of what we’ve been up to (aside from planning a Dolly tattoo, that pride in me was misplaced) and plotted how we could spend more time with each other.
Given that Dolly is the greatest person to ever exist and she fills us with happiness and warmth, the only thing that could do her any justice was a nice big pot of Dolognese Parton.
There is nothing quite like a freshly made batch of bolognese, to make you feel happy and content. Given Dolly is a total firecracker and we have a penchant for liquefying our innards, we add a good whack of chilli to the bolognese, a real good whack, and it is all the better for it.
Serves: 6-8. Or 3, with plenty of leftovers.
2 onions, diced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 large carrot, finely sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1kg mince, ideally 50:50 beef and pork, but go with whatever you prefer
handful mushrooms, sliced
1 glass red wine
1 tbsp dried chilli, or a couple of small chillis finely sliced or a tbsp hot sauce (go with what you prefer, we add more)
3 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
a bunch spinach, washed
spaghetti, to serve
freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Heat a good lug (are we Jamie Oliver) of olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven. Go with the biggest thing you’ve got. Cook the onion, celery, carrot and garlic over medium heat for about five minutes, or until starting to tender. Add the mince and brown while breaking up with the wooden spoon.
Once the meat is brown, drain off some of the fat. Not all of it obviously, but depending on the quality of the meat you may have a ridiculous amount. Use your judgement?
Return to the pan and mix through the mushrooms until they have started to soften, it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes. Add as generous a glass of red wine as your drinking will permit and cook off for a minute, before adding the chilli, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and dried herbs. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low and simmer half-covered for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the dolognese is simmer, cook spaghetti (or whatever pasta you prefer) to packet instructions. I know we should be making our own pasta, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered.
When the sauce is done, stir through the bunch of spinach to wilt and remove from the heat.
Serve dolognese on a generous bed of pasta (I don’t mix it through the sauce so I can use the leftovers for other meals) and cover liberally, a bit too liberally, with parmesan. Herby garlic bread is also a good idea.
This makes a ridiculous amount so unless you’re feeding a large family or have had a particularly rough week and wine just isn’t cutting it, you will have to freeze the leftovers for another meal. Or for jaffles. Or actually, I’ve got an idea …