|Check out the fancy pasta!|
Feeds 4. Take a kilo of beef braising steak, and if not done already, cut into smallish chunks. Put in a big bowl. Add to the bowl the following ingredients in no particular order: a bouquet garni of parsley, bay and thyme, two onions, finely chopped, three cloves chopped garlic, one hot crushed dried chili, two celery stalks finely chopped, a couple pared slices of orange zest, half a bottle of red wine, a decent glug of brandy, salt and pepper, one large finely chopped carrot and mix well. Stick in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to cook pre-heat the oven to 160c. Carefully remove the beef from its marinade and pat dry on kitchen roll. Take a big casserole and brown the meat well in some olive oil. Remove and put to the side. In the same pan fry a decent handful of diced smoked bacon or pancetta and when crispy and coloured, scoop out all the veg from the marinade bowl, add to the pan and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add the meat back, along with the rest of the marinade and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Mix well, bring to the boil and place covered, in the oven. Cook for at least three hours but keep checking that it hasn't dried out, add more wine or some water if it does. When finished the beef should have really broken up, not in chunks anymore, more an appetising meaty mush, that tastes mush nicer than anything called mush. When you dish up, remove the herbs and orange zest. It's great with mash but I think it works best with some nice fat fettuccine, or even better, exciting fancy multi-coloured pasta I got for Christmas from my Auntie!
The French might be furious that I eat this with pasta but who cares, it tastes divine. The orange is subtle but sets it apart from a normal ragu. You can jazz it up with a gremolata of chopped parsley, raw garlic and a little lemon zest, but you might not notice the lovely soft flavours so much. Either way it will warm your bones.