I must have been Italian in another life, I’m too comfortable with Italian food and positively in love with all things related to tomatoes, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Everyone has their own version of the famous ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’, or a meat ‘Ragu’, but this one is my personal favourite. It’s perfect for fast lane foodies because if you make it the day ahead, you can have it for dinner the next evening and for lunch the day after that, serve it with pasta, jacket potatoes or just a hunk of bread, the choice is yours.
250g each of Pork and Beef Mince (500g total weight)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Half an onion, finely diced
A small carrot and a celery stick finely diced
1 Tsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1 cup of red wine
1 pint beef stock
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 Tsp dried Oregano
1 leftover chunk of parmesan rind, never throw these away!
1 small bunch of fresh basil
To begin your Ragu heat a large, deep non-stick pan and add a few lugs of olive oil, season the meat generously with salt and black pepper and fry in batches, removing the cooked meat to a sieve as you go until all the meat is browned. Once the meat is browned and removed from the pan add another glug of olive oil to the pan, the butter, onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Gently sweat for 1o minutes before adding the tomato puree. Cook the puree out for a minute or two and add the red wine, bring to the boil and reduce by half.
At this stage, add the tomatoes, bay leaf, stock, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Add back the meat and stir well. At this stage, don’t lose the plot, it’s a well kept secret but add the parmesan rind, and, the milk. Milk adds to the richness making the Ragu more rounded and delicious while adding to the unctuous nature of slow cooked meat and the parmesan infuses the salty cheese flavour throughout the Ragu as it cooks.
Now, bring this mixture to the boil and turn the heat down to low, simmer the Ragu for 2 hours with the lid on, the mixture should just gently blip and not boil vigorously.
After 2 hours finely slice and add the basil before checking for seasoning and serving with your favourite pasta and lashings of grated Parmesan.