Ragù alla Bolognese with fresh tagliatelle:
I really can’t bring myself to call this Spaghetti Bolognese. I can’t. This is so much more.
Ragù alla Bolognese is a meat and tomato sauce made with beef, pork or veal mince – or a mixture of these. Different meats add depths of flavour and once this sauce is simmered for 3-4 hours it has a rich and intense flavour perfect for timbles or tagliatelle (NOT spaghetti).
Yesterday we had a new fridge delivered – it is amazing, such an improvement for the old one with its wobbly door and icebox that could hardly freeze ice cream. Our new freezer means the world of quick and tasty lunches has opened up to us – it wouldn’t have been safe to keep meat in the old freezer it was that bad, but this one will be filled with sauces, curries and stews ready for busy lunchtimes! And ragù is a great example of a perfect freezable lunch.
The sauce is relatively little work, but does take its time to reduce down so leave yourself 3-4 hours – I mainly used The Silver Spoon’s traditional recipe but tweaked the method a bit after reading Delia’s recipe. Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a largish heavy bottomed saucepan on a medium-low heat (n.b. although we have both extra virgin and normal olive oil – it’s much better to use the plainer oil for cooking and keep the stronger flavours of the extra virgin oil for dressings, uncooked sauces and pestos otherwise the stronger oil starts to mask the other lighter flavours), stir in a large diced onion and cover for 10mins until translucent – stirring occasionally. Throw in a diced carrot and celery stick and cook for another 5-10 mins until the veg starts to brown a little.
In a separate frying pan heat a tbsp. of oil and over a medium-high heat fry 150g minced beef, once this has coloured add it to the vegetables, and then again in the frying pan fry 150g minced free-range pork mince (ours is from Axons in Didsbury, make sure to ask your butcher if the pork is free-range, most supermarkets high end range is outdoor bred but not free-range), once the mince has taken on a bit of colour (around 5mins) add it to the vegetables. Stir in 3tbsp of tomato purée and cook this out for a minute or so, then pour in 120ml of dry white wine and 120ml of water, season, cover and cook on a very low heat for 2 ½ – 3 hours – use a heat diffuser if you have one to keep the heat low and even. Check the sauce every half hour or so to make sure it has enough liquid – covering the meat for the first 2 hours and then becoming thicker towards the end of the cooking time – you will have to stir it more frequently towards the end. This sauce tastes even better the next day once it’s had longer for the flavours to develop.
We had this with home-made tagliatelle – 200g ‘00’ flour, 2 eggs, a dash of olive oil and salt kneaded together for 8 minutes, left to rest in the fridge for 30mins (the dough is perfectly happy in the fridge for up to 24hours so you can always make it the day before). After mixed results with a rolling pin (and my achy arms) we decided to buy a pasta roller – ‘The Imperia’, which is possibly the most useful thing in our kitchen (or down the back of the sofa where it lives for lack of cupboard space…). Roll it through to the finest thickness and leave to dry for 30mins again.
When cooking pasta (fresh or dried) it is important to use a large saucepan, on the highest heat, full of salted water on a rolling boil and never cover your pasta when it’s cooking. Fresh pasta needs practically no cooking – blanch until al dente, strain and mix the sauce through for at least a minute, this makes sure it is all coated, and then douse with parmesan.
This potato dish had to get a mention as it is was so simple and tasty, another low effort lunch– in an oven proof dish throw in a mixture of sliced potatoes, carrots and onions (I used my food processor attachment on my Kenwood mixer), glug over with some olive oil,season and fleck with basil, cover and bake at 180°C for 40 mins, then cover with grated cheese (ours was delicious with some Emmenthal) and return to the oven uncovered until the cheese has all melted.