Now, some of you know I like to cook. From scratch everyday. Yes, I know, I know; I'm a real hero. But as someone who likes to eat I follow the obvious path that flows from this; shopping, preparing and, ultimately cooking what I've foraged from TESCO, LIDL and my butchers. (It helps to have a 'butchers', even if you don't go there. When relating food stories, dropping in 'my butcher' will mark you out as a serious player in the dick measuring competition we call socialising.)
So today, I want you to share with you my rich and intense meat ragu recipe. It is traditional to write at this point that my recipe is a million miles away from your average spaghetti bolognese or 'spag bol'. So I will honour the convention and state that my meat ragu is the real deal - as authentic as a plastic statuette bought outside the leaning tower of Pisa. For a start, my recipe is stock and porcini based, not tomato. I use steak, not mince. There's no milk, cream or sugar. It cooks away in the oven at a low heat for two / three hours. It's just a like a somebody's momma used to make. Probably. Without the rabbit or offal.
To begin this meaty recipe that passionately suggests a rustic tumble down farmhouse in Tuscany, the gentle swaying of Cypress trees, the far off sound of a moped, you need to get three things going straight away. Firstly, put on some music. (Currently I'm listening to the soundtrack of the TV series Nashville, y'all) Secondly, put a handful of porcini mushrooms in about 200ml of boiling water to rehydrate. Thirdly, pour yourself a large glass of wine. You're gonna need it. Now we're ready to cook.
I start with the classic holy trinity of carrot, celery, onion - and couple this with their close cousins in the Ubiquitous Italian Recipe family - garlic, chopped fresh rosemary and pancetta. Optionally, depending on your taste buds, throw in a little or a lot of chilli flakes. Soften, stir, and add chopped fresh mushrooms. Get a good pair of kitchen scissors and snip the steak into small pieces and put in the pot. Stir and then add your wine. I tend to use a jealous glass or so of whatever I happen to be drinking, red or white.
A little tomato paste, snipped up porcini mushrooms, a bracing grate of nutmeg, a twist of pepper and some Maldon salt flakes. Finally, sieve and add the mushroom infused water the porcinis were hydrated in. Boil it off a bit, cover and then put in the oven (about 160C, gas mark no idea) and leave it. Have a glass of wine. Play guitar. Read my short stories. Buy Franco's Fiesta.
Boil some decent pasta in salted water. I'm using Tortigliono from Barilla at the moment because aesthetically I like my pasta in boxes. Okay it was on special offer at TESCO. Add some butter to the Ragu. Mix together with the drained pasta in the pan and yes, I know I forgot to do that in the picture below. Plate up. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Or Cheddar, whatever. Pour a glass of wine. Switch on TV. Enjoy.
(Pedants note: I haven't given exact amounts of any of the ingredients as I'm more of an instinctive cook. If it feels good, looks right, go with it. No rules, children. This is a Ragu not a wedding cake.)