A few weeks ago I was really craving a hearty slow cooked meat sauce for pasta- one of those blip away on the stove for hours, make the house smell amazing and be rich and rib stickingly delicious kind of sauces. Well I found the recipe,made it, froze leftovers and we ate them too over the following weeks. And it’s in this gloomy, wet, grey and frosty Melbourne weather I’m craving it again. Glass of red here wouldn’t go astray either!
Ingredient wise it’s not crazy or out there- I opted to grind the meat myself and the only thing you may need to hunt for at a deli would be dried porcini mushrooms and flat pancetta- but if you couldn’t find those things I think you could just sub in dried shitake mushrooms and just your ready sliced pancetta- easy!
Surprise surprise the recipe was from gourmet traveller. Ragu alla bolognese- it’s straightforward really, brown the minced chuck and pancetta, toss in the veggies (usual bolognese suspects carrot, onion and celery) add the stock and cook it down. It’s the small additions to this recipe that make it stand out. Like sprinkling the butter over the meat to melt in, the earthy mushrooms, bitey sage and stirring through a dollop of cream at the very end. Just writing about it is almost making me dribble onto the keyboard!
First things first- grind the meat (if you don’t buy it ground already). I use the grinding attachment that I have for my kitchen aid and it is the best thing ever- and actually really well priced in comparison to some of the other attachment bits.
Chop the pancetta into small cubes and brown it with the beef in a really big heavy based pan- I used big blue, my gorgeous big big big Le Creuset.
From this point is just a case of adding the rest of the ingredients to the pot in a couple of stages and then gradually reducing and cooking down the liquid until you’ve got a lovely rich and thick ragu. The recipe said to cook for about 1.5 hours but I was probably just nudging over the 2 hour mark.
While it was bubbling away I also made some fresh pasta- it was pretty tasty but my only complaint was that I didn’t roll it out thin enough- always time for more practise in the future! Thanks to the number of egg yolks it was the most glorious yellow colour.
This sauce is meaty and rich in flavour- very different to your stock standard spag bol where it’s a much more tomato flavoured and much lighter on in flavour. With the cold weather well and truly at our doorstep set some time aside on the weekend and let this bubble away- even better you’ll have lots of leftovers for other chilly nights.