It seems the whole of the UK is retreating to the bunkers to avoid the coronavirus and I, for one, do not blame them. Whether you wish to avoid the oncoming plague for your own sake, to avoid spreading it to loved ones or just because you loathe the human race and this affords you a socially acceptable excuse to avoid them, i’m one hundred percent behind your choices. You do you.

Still, as you soak in your own stench in a hastily constructed shelter, you’re still going to need to eat and you’re still going to want to interact with those god awful sacks of meat that wander the planet, taking selfies and complaining about taxes. To that end, I thought i’d combine my love of cooking barely edible slop with the joy I find in the Masterchef UK tweetalong, during which I talk a lot of old bollocks and attempt to amuse the masses. My plan is to post one recipe each week that you can hastily throw together when you realise that Masterchef starts in 15 minutes, you’ve not eaten and you’ve already consumed a large amount of wine.

For my first post in this series, I thought i’d knock up something simple with pasta. I know that pasta is harder to lay hands on than a slippery pigs pecker right now, but I had some in the cupboard and it’s one of the few things I can cook. You’ve got a couple of hours until Masterchef starts so pour yourself a glass of vin du plonk, kick off your shoes and relax. Then, in around one hour and forty minutes, swear loudly and run to the kitchen to whip up a delicious mushroom tagliatelle sort of mess just in time for Masterchef. Just follow my simple recipe and before you know it, you’ll be “enjoying” a home cooked meal. Well, either that or regretting your decisions and ordering a pizza.

Woman on the phone
“Yeah, a large deep pan with pepperoni. No. No, I completely shagged it with the carbonara.”


– One 700g bag of dry tagliatelle, street value around £200 to £300.
– One tin of mushroom soup, found at the back of the cupboard and repeatedly ignored in favour of chips and cake.
– One onion. Red, brown, makes no difference. Not pickled, though.
– One tin of hotdog sausages. The kind that are mostly just snouts and hooves. (Substitute for something much healthier, tastier and more ethical if
you’re vegetarian, vegan or have any damn sense.)
– One chunk of parmesan, discovered behind a tub of butter and probably from that time you arsed up a risotto in a bid to impress visiting friends.
– One block of cheddar. The cheap stuff that shares 95% of it’s chemical signature with most household plastics.
– That splodge of wholegrain mustard, still sat in the jar.
– Butter. Real, salty butter. Or margarine. Or lard. Or old milk.
– Salt, pepper, worcester sauce, basically anything from the spice rack that smells like it goes with mushrooms and cheap sausage.

Several jars filled with spices
Not a fucking clue.


First, you’re going to need a big saucepan for the pasta. Glug hot water in until it’s about half full, no matter what the size. Then dump in about two thirds of the tagliatelle, ignoring the instructions to bring the water to the boil first because who the hell has the time.

While that boils or whatever, chop the sausages and onions into wee chunks. Stick a bit of butter in a wok or frying pan and lob in the sausage, onion, spices and mustard. Cook it all up until the onions stick to the pan and you have to vigorously attack them with a spatula to get them moving again. That’s where the flavour is, in those burned remnants and crunchy bits.

Once the water is bubbling and the bits of stuff are well blackened, turn the frying pan down to a low/medium heat and dump in the mushroom soup. Leave that to cook while you drain the pasta. The best way to do this is grab your colander, stick it on the worktop, start to pour the pasta into it and then scream as boiling hot water splashes your thighs and groin. Once you’ve applied soothing balms and changed your clothes, put the colander on top of a bowl and resume draining.

You’re nearly done. Have another splash of vino and dump the drained pasta into the weird looking soup mixture. Squodge* it about a bit and then grab your parmesan. Now, this parmesan should be rock hard and smell like a leper’s foot. If it doesn’t, it’s not properly matured. You’re going to want to run the grater along it just once, realise that the back end of the block is mouldy and then fling it in the bin and pick the grated flakes out of your dinner. It won’t do you any harm but ew, am I right?

A woman leaning over a pan, smelling the food as it cooks

This is where Plasti-Cheese (TM) comes into it’s own. That will never go mouldy because it’s not technically a food, being closer in chemical make-up to bakelite. Break off a slab, grate a bunch into the pasta and give it a stir. Now all that remains is leaving it to cook for just too long, so some of it welds itself to the pan.

Dish it up, throw the pots and pans into the sink with a squish of Fairy and a splash of hot water and put your feet up. Load Twitter, join in the tweetalong fun on the #MasterchefUK tag and try not to throw up as Al’s Mushroom Carbonarisn’t settles to the bottom of your gut like a writhing mess of snakes and soylent green. Bon appetit, folks.

* Squodge – A method of mixing which involves gingerly moving food around a pan and cursing as bits of it slip over the edge, welding themselves to the hob with a sound like a snake being slowly run through a mangle.

DISCLAIMER: I can cook. A bit, anyway. Using mushroom soup as the base of a pasta sauce, with a little cheese and some pancetta or maybe some butter fried courgette is actually bloody tasty. The “recipe” above is written for yucks. If you follow it and somehow poison yourself or go on fire, don’t sue me. I’ve only got 72 pence and a couple of Spider-Man comics anyway.

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