Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Sunday Night Ragu

Spag bol: beloved by most as a fail proof and inexpensive student/weekday staple/can't think of anything else to cook with mince dish. Yet say the word ragu and I instantly think of  something special made with slow cooked hunks of meat, beef, lamb, venison, whatever you have, gently simmered for as many hours as it takes to allow it to be shredded into soft sweet strands, all melty and delicious. I actually looked it up on Wikepdia and I think we have just bastardised and cheapened Ragu alla Bolognese into a reliable and easy weekday fodder.  I think of good old reliable bol as being the Primark to a decent ragu's Prada. Now we all love and need a bit of good old Primarni every now and again, but a proper slow ragu cooked with time and love, is really where the quality and taste is, a necessary treat. This may not make sense to boys reading this but never mind.

I went home for the weekend to stay with the rentals and had to leave on Sunday, before Mum's legendary roast beef (with the best Yorkshires known to man). Being the kind and generous soul she is, Mum actually cut off a chunk of the roasting joint and gave it to me to take home! How nice is that?! So I eventually got back to Surbiton, having left Salisbury, the train being diverted via Southampton Central (ggrrr), and proceeded to make beef ragu, and this is how you make it:

Feeds 3 (random I know but it was a random bit of beef, just add more tomatoes and wine if using more meat). Take a 400g piece of beef topside and slice in half lengthways so you have two thinner bits of meat. Brown in olive oil in a casserole and season. Remove and set aside and fry a chopped onion until starting to soften, then add 4 chopped cloves of garlic and a decent pinch of dried chilli. (I also threw in a spoonful of Colombian aji, a fiery hot pepper sauce that my friend Simon had just brought over with some amazing empanadas as a tasty and very welcome present). Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a glass of red wine, return the meat to the pan with all the juices, and add water if the liquid doesn't quite cover the meat. Put the lid on and simmer for a couple of hours, poking it about every once in a while to make sure its not sticking and adding more water if it looks like it's drying out. It's done when you can shred the meat with two forks, do this on a chopping board and then return all the meat back into the sauce (if it doesn't seem like it wants to shred, try from a different angle as the 'grain' of the meat is directional). I made a little gremolata which I thoroughly recommend (a mixture of finely chopped lemon zest, garlic and parsley sprinkled over the top), which really sings on top of the deep savoury meaty richness. Plop a few big spoon fulls of ragu over some pasta and the world is suddenly a better place.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely ragu.And please one time if not secret ..recepie for teh best Yorkshires;))