recipe reacharound: Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Let’s keep this strictly business this week shall we? The recipe is a reacharound of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, it’s fabulous, it’s wonderful, it takes no time at all and tastes bloody good. I’ve hurt my shoulder trying to sneak a giant concrete garden ornament into the rubble bin at the tip so it hurts to type. In my defence I didn’t want to pay £2.50 because that seems like an outrageous amount to someone like me: the Queen blinks against the sudden light when I pull a fiver from my wallet. Plus I was giving it the Barry Big Bollocks lifting it out of my Golf like I was Geoff bloody Capes so if anything, it was my hubris that felled me in the end. But isn’t that always the case, eventually?

Luckily, we have the second part of the Paul story to entertain, so over to my slender counterpart. You can read part one here, so you can. Paul doesn’t believe in skimping on the detail, so do just scroll to the photos of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese if you’re in NO BLOODY MOOD for his nonsense and flimflam.

You know what would make my shoulder hurt a little less? Seeing some pre-orders on our amazing new book! 100 fast dinner recipes for all occasions! You can order it here 

So really, the next five years or so carried on in the same sort of way. James would cook sometimes and he even taught me how to make a delicious risotto – still one of my favourites. Pretty early on we started going to Slimming World. James had a lot of success in his teen years following SW and knowing I was self-conscious about my weight (actually having access to food and not having to walk 10 miles a day meant the weight piled straight back on again…) we gave it a go. And that go lasted for a good 5-6 years. We tried a few different classes as we moved about but always returned to the same one because it was so super friendly and the consultant was a right laugh. No shade to Slimming World but we didn’t really enjoy the classes. It just wasn’t our cup of tea and our consultant did her best. We fell into the same pattern of turning up, getting weighed and then making an excuse to leave so really our fiver went on standing on a pair of scales, which of course we could do for free at home. A year or two after joining Slimming World though we started to try a bit more cooking, mostly for financial reasons (Papa John’s ain’t cheap) but also we knew that if we didn’t we’d just balloon more and more. Social Media was starting to become a thing so we joined a few of the Facebook groups and started making all the standard fare that used to be doing the rounds. You know the stuff. Curry Loaf. Quiche. Fanta Chicken. If it was about 10 pixels across and badly cropped we made it. We laugh about it now but that was the height of our abilities. And so, twochubbycubs was born! Initially it was more of a place for James’ writing but, for some reason we still can’t figure out, it really started to take off. Fuck knows why, because for the first couple of years the stuff we put out was absolute shite. But it did! And so along with that, out of necessity, we needed to be able to cook.

So, that brings us to the recent times. If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that a few years ago we appeared on ITV’s This Time Next Year. It was by chance that we spotted a post in our Facebook group where the production company were looking for people so on a whim we just did it. We knew that weight loss would need to be our thing – by that point we’d ballooned to nearly our biggest size, both well over twenty stone. The process was pretty quick, we had a few interviews and then got the news while we were on holiday in, er, Berwick, that we were going on! Of course we then spent the next month or so absolutely stuffing our faces like never before – thinking that we may as well take advantage before it’d all be taken away for us forever.

The challenge was to lose twenty stone between us, in a year. We got off to an okay start – doing the same things we’d always done – joined Slimming World, stayed for the class, stopped eating takeaways. And that was really it. The losses, as always at the start, were pretty massive but it wasn’t long before they levelled out and we started to become a bit despondent. But the truth is, we didn’t know what else to do. We knew that exercise would help us but we were too big at that point to do anything comfortably, and it was at the bottom of our list of priorities. We’d absorbed all the bad habits that slimming classes drum into us – like eating a giant plate of potatoes or pasta (with us, usually both) and thinking that because it was “Free” we would automatically lose weight. We were falling behind on our weight loss, massively, which became all too apparent when we were booked in for a DEXA scan and I was told that, halfway through our challenge, I was still 50% fat and off the centile charts. We were gussied up to do something about it but still a bit clueless, so we started restricting. We cut out the ten-a-day Muller Lights, switched to skimmed milk and stopped eating cheese. Naturally, all this meant was that we’d both binge on the sly because our meals at home just could not sustain us, and we’d taken out all the deliciousness and joy from eating. By chance, James stumbled across a local company that ran HIIT classes (I think it’s the same as Cross Fit, but without having to pay to licence it) that promised that if you lost 20lb in six weeks they’d give you your money back. He signed us both up immediately and told me, ON MY BIRTHDAY OF ALL DAYS (where I had already finely curated my birthday takeaway for the night) that we were going, and we were going to stick with it. I wish I could say that was the worst birthday I’ve ever had, but the birthday I spent with him in hospital having his willy-hat lopped off probably takes the title.

I won’t lie, I was absolutely dreading it. The thought of going to a warehouse in the middle of an industrial estate to EXERCISE. In my condition?! No. I raced through all the excuses but ‘er indoors was having none of it. We were going.

Fortunately, the first session wasn’t the fresh hell I was expecting. The place was clean, tidy and modern and the staff lovely. I actually recognised the trainer as being the bloke who used to always give me extra chips in canteen at work and never charged me for it (and still to this day I tell him it’s all his fault I got so fat). Because the classes were aimed at people losing weight (and it being just two weeks after Christmas it’s fair to say we were all in a pretty poor condition) they were, thankfully, quite easy to begin with. Lots of squats, wall sits and easing you into exercise, gently at first. Well, would you believe it – I bloody loved it. Well, when I was actually doing it I wanted to die and seriously considered faking having a heart attack so I could get out there (I’m not joking), as soon as we finished singing Freed From Desire (our groups theme song, for some reason….) I felt great! The weight was melting away, and each time I hit the 20lb target, usually landing a few pounds over.

The saving grace of this was that we enjoyed the exercise – and I’ll come back to this later – and if we hadn’t had found that, we would have failed in the first few days. Having the exercise we enjoyed and also importantly getting the results from it made the food a little less terrible. There was also the important fact that we were due to go on the telly in just a few months, where the lovely Davina was expecting her stage to creak a hell of a lot less. Those last six months we really, really went for it. We did the HIIT classes three times a week, and we went to the gym for the other four days for no fewer than three hours at a time. We (to borrow a phrase from the nineties) caned it, and we got the results. By the time we made it to the studio in the May time we hadn’t quite hit our target (I was short by 2.5 stone and James 1) but we felt and looked much better so we didn’t mind. If we had started our fitness part earlier we would have easily hit our target, and probably a lot more (we were still overweight, but only just). We made the promise on that sofa that there was no going back. We were never going to get fat ever again, and the changes we made were there to stay, and we were only just beginning, baby. We left there and went back to the hotel and ordered ourselves a celebratory Papa John’s that we’d been fantasising about for the last six months. So high on our success were we that we ordered a small pizza each and didn’t even finish it. The next day on the way home we went to a Little Chef and I had a yoghurt.

It didn’t last.

Two days after getting home from the studio, fresh in our H&M gear (that we could now fit into) we minced to Tesco to stock up on chicken ‘n’ broccoli, but outside they were handing out vouchers for some Kelly’s ice cream. We bought 4 tubs that day, just as a treat you understand, and it was a bargain after all it’d be silly not to….and ate all four that day. Delicious, mind.

Ever mindful we’d had six months of terrible food and an excruciating exercise regime we promised ourselves that we’d have the occasional treat but we’d stick to it. A few months before we had booked a dream holiday to Canada for six weeks – another thing to aim for, and we were determined we were going to be just as slim as we were for it as we had been on the telly. We signed back up for a six-week programme at Elite and got back on it. By the time Canada came along we were back at our telly weight.

Canada, of course, was awesome. Throughout the whole holiday we’d tell each other, “we’d never have done this if we were still fat!” (which caught more than one bearded Canadian bloke off-guard). And it’s true. Like I said up there, being fat impacts on every single part of your life, and we were realising now what things we would have avoided. Even simple things like not wanting to go up an observation tower because the lift was quite small and people would tut because you’d be taking up too much space. All sorts of daft stuff.

We did six weeks in Canada and, naturally, we did pile on the pounds when we were there. We started off well but by week two we were eating every treat, all the poutine, trying out all the different flavours of crisps… but we promised ourselves that when we got back we’d get back on it, and we’d shed it all. It was just a treat for ourselves anyway, and we were on holiday after all.

When we got back we did indeed get back on it. Back to Elite, back on the brown rice. We hit the 20lb target again and felt pleased, but without having the shadow of the TV programme hanging over us the motivation was gone. We stopped going to the gym as often and when we did we’d slack off. A few weeks later we went on holiday to Tokyo. Already by that point, which was only two months after being on the telly, I was all too aware that the weight was piling back on and I was “big” again. Granted I wasn’t as big as I had been, but was still big, and in somewhere like Japan that meant REALLY big. Naturally we had to try all the local delicacies, and the unusual restaurants we just had to visit, and the bars, and all the different KitKats (plus a melon soda which I swear has heroin in it) just made things worse. After Canada I started in a new job which was okay but was bullied terribly which only got worse after we came back from Japan. Comfort eating became a fast friend, as did all of the bad habits, and in less than a year I was only a few stone off where I had been at the start of the year.

Something that became ever apparent at this time is my absolute total lack of willpower. I have none. James attributes a lot of it down to being a “poor kid” and if something is there I have to have it before it’s gone. When I get an idea in my head that I want something, I have to have it, and nothing will bring me down. Trust me, I’ve tried everything. I started leaving my wallet at home so that I couldn’t buy stuff, but instead I’d just use the contactless on my phone. I uninstalled that but so I just switched to saving up odd bits of change. I would make up excuses to go to the supermarket for something and sit in my car stuffing my face, and load up on other stuff that I’d hide in my car so I always had a stash. A very destructive habit.

When the TV programme finally aired, I was pleased but also embarrassed and ashamed. I had people coming up to me congratulating me for what I’d achieved, but it was clear that I didn’t keep it up. We were back shopping for clothes at the garden centre and moping around. We did Elite a few more times but we didn’t stick to it. Once or twice we missed the 20lb target. We just couldn’t get back into it, no matter what we tried.


Alright Paul we get the bloody point about the bloody gammo, Christ. More from Rusty Bloodvessel next week. For now, we turn to the instant pot spaghetti bolognese which will delight and surprise you. Don’t have an Instant Pot? Then who the hell do you think you are? Don’t worry, we’ve done a normal method too. Oh, and Paul typed the recipe up, so if there’s errors, we can blame him.

Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Of course if you don’t cover your Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese in half a Ped-Egg’s worth of cheese then why bother

Overhead shot of Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, ruining my camera with steam

Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Nevermind the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, you should have seen the word that appeared before OFF on the machine

Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

650 calories I hear you cry for Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese and of course you're right that seems like a lot but does it really? For a massive bowl of pasta and wine and meat and the ease of cooking it all in one dish? Plus, to be fair, this probably serves six - we're just greedy fat pigs. If you have leftovers, you can turn that into another meal, see below the recipe for that!

All calories are approximate and worked out via the NHS calculator. So shut yer gob.

Ingredients

  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 400g spaghetti
  • 40g diced chorizo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml passata
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano

Instructions

  • set the instant pot to saute and add a splash of oil
  • add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and then add the mince and chorizo cook until browned
  • add the chopped tomatoes, passata, red wine, salt, pepper and oregano to the pan and give a good stir
  • break the spaghetti in half and add to the pan along with 850ml water - make sure the spaghetti is covered as much as possible (push it down with a wooden spoon if not)
  • cook under high pressure for ten minutes, then quick release
  • give a good stir and leave to cool for a few minutes - don't worry if it looks a bit watery, it'll soon thicken up

Notes

Recipe

  • huge apologies to the entire nation of Italy for this one, which is probably illegal there. Still good though.
  • add whatever you like into this - bacon, mushrooms, spinach - whatever you have lying about, chuck it in
  • the wine won't get your kids pissed but if you'd still rather avoid it just add the same amount in extra water instead

Not got an Instant Pot? You can cook it pretty much as is on a hob, but add the spaghetti straight into the hob rather than doing it on its own - the spaghetti cooks in the sauce and it's just laaaahverley

Books

  • twochubbycubs: Dinner Time is our new book and it's out in May and it's so good I could bubble - genuinely our best work yet - you can pre-order here!
  • of course if you like your meals fast and filling, book two will scratch that itch: order yours here! 
  • perhaps you want to go back to where it all began - our first cookbook which is a joy untold: click here to order
  • our diet planner will keep you on track and there's twenty six recipes in there for good measure: here

Tools

  • we have an Instant Pot Pro because of course we do - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still and they're all marvellous bits of kit

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Goomba has developed a love of eating things off the work surfaces and we're currently missing a teaspoon

Courses evening meal

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Got leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese? Crack three eggs into it, and bake it in the oven topped with cheese and tomato!

Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese can be baked with eggs into a loaf

Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese

Looks like a scabby knee but the leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese tastes good baked like this

Gonna level with you, our SEO bollocks is saying I need to say Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese a few more times to get a green light. I personally think I’ve said Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese enough times but they are saying this Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese needs more Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese references. Pah! I’m too busy thinking about Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese to concern myself with matters like that.

Well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.

Jx

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