It’s pretty uncouth to blow your own trumpet, right? A bit of modesty never goes amiss. Sure. Well, please forgive me then when I say that this spag-bol is quite literally SUPER. You need to set aside at least 2 hours from the moment you get off the sofa to the first forkful of food entering your mouth, but most of the time is to allow the pot of ragu to simmer, so there’s easily enough time to entertain friends or watch an episode of the Wire in the meantime…
*500g lean good quality minced beef *100g pancetta or bacon(this is optional and only if you’re feeling extra lardy!) *1 tbsp olive oil *1 medium onion *180g carrots *2-3 sticks of celery *2-3 cloves of garlic *2 tins of chopped tomatoes *1-2 tbsp sundried tomato paste *2 beef stock cubes (or fresh stock) *150ml red wine *heaps of parmesan *your favourite long pasta (I prefer linguine or tagliatelle so it’s up to you) *knob of butter *plenty of salt and pepper *pinch of basil if you like
1. Prepare the veg by very finely dicing the carrots and celery. Chop the onion and garlic nice and small too and pop in a bowl. I find it impossible not to eat the carrots as I go along so always buy a few extra in the shop, you may need to too…
2. Heat the oil in a big pan over a moderate heat and fry the pancetta for a few minutes.
3. Then add the mince – I crumble it into the pan with my (clean) hands – and brown it all over.
4. Then add the garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Cook on a reasonably high heat for about 15 minutes.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree, beef stock (made up with 150ml if you use stock cubes) and the red wine. Season lots and stir plenty. The ragu will look reddy-brown and be very liquid-y.
6. Turn the heat right down, the longer you have the lower the heat can be and the more tender the end result. Simmer for about an hour and a half. This is easily enough time to watch a terrible Nicolas Cage movie and get to work on the open bottle of wine, but do remember to stir the ragu now and again…
7. After about 90 minutes or so the sauce will have reduced and the meat and veg will be really tender. Make the pasta (100g per person) and serve. A mini mountain of parmesan finishes it off nicely and if there’s only 2 people eating then you can freeze half for a tasty and easy school-night dinner.
Really, it doesn’t look like much and it is stupidly easy but it tastes proper wholesome and special.