Thursday, 27 September 2012


Fall is really here. We are still having some beautiful days but more often than not, I am coming home looking for something to warm up my hands and my face. There might have been a lot of stews and soups simmering away in my kitchen lately. I originally planned to make this for my friends Judith and Mimi when they helped me squeeze my washing machine into my tiny kitchen and then build a new sink seemingly around it, but after we had completely re-assembled my kitchen we gave up on the whole dinner thing. And I was stuck with a kilo of minced meat at 8pm, so I decided to not make a quick ragù but something rich and seemingly creamy. I didn't get to sleep until 2 that night, but it was definitely worth it.
I used the recipe from Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy's 'The Geometry of Pasta' as my guide and as always their descriptions were easy to follow (and to adapt to whatever I wanted to make).
Ok, so what should you know before you even start with this recipe - it needs time - if you're really quick with the chopping and browning and stuff make sure you don't have to leave the house for the next 5 hours, if you, like me end up running to the supermarket halfway through the first steps because you've forgotten something, you'll end up needing closer to 6 hours.
It is a fantastic pasta sauce, an even better sauce for a lasagne, it is really nice in pasties (I guess they're not that Cornish anymore once you add the ragù) it freezes really well oh, and it's really nice just with a slice of bread as well.

Ragù (after Hildebrand & Kenedy)
600g Minced Beef
400g Minced Veal
200g Carrot
200g Onion
4 cloves Garlic
100g Butter
60ml Olive Oil
100g Bacon (unsmoked), cut into small strips or pieces
400ml Red Wine
600ml Milk
1kg Tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes, but you could also use tinned ones)
250ml Beef Stock
A sprig of fresh Thyme (optional)

Before you do anything else, find a big pot.
Peel the carrot and dice it. Cut the onion into pieces about the same size. Then, peel the garlic and cut it into thin slices. The original recipe suggests using a large frying pan for the next step but I don't have a large frying pan so I just proceeded with a big pot and waited longer.
Melt the butter and the oil, then sauté the vegetables and bacon over a medium for 10 minutes until they are somewhat soft. Turn up the heat and add the meat in 5 smaller batches. Between additions, allow the water in the meat to evaporate - if you are using a frying pan, this will be relatively quick, if you are using a pot, give it some time. After you have added the last batch, wait for the pan to 'splutter' I know that sounds weird but you'll see - once it starts happening you'll understand. Turn down the heat and brown the meat. You're waiting for some crispy bits to appear which should take about 15-20 minutes if you have that magic frying pan and took closer to 20-25 minutes in my pot.
While you are waiting for the meat, cut the tomatoes into small pieces. If you are using fresh tomatoes and don't like their skins, you could blanch and peel them. I just left the skins on and cut them into pieces.
Add the wine and if you have been using a pan, now you transfer everything to a big pot anyway. Add the milk, tomatoes, and stock. Now is also the time to start seasoning. Add some salt, some black pepper, some chilli flakes (apparently that is somewhat heretical, but who cares?! It tastes nice!) and if you have some, some fresh thyme.
Turn the heat down very low and simmer for 4 hours or so, stirring occasionally. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can add some more stock or water, but you're aiming for a really thick sauce ('as thick as double cream and, stirred up, the whole should be somewhat porridgy' - and you wonder why I love that book?!?!)
Season one last time. I like to add some balsamic vinegar to adjust the acidity.
Now, either go to sleep or dig in :)

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