Extract

Harry Eastwood's Ragu Bolognese

A timeless classic that makes for perfect comfort food

I went to Bologna to taste real Ragu Bolognese and here is an extract from my diary, after the first plate was put down in front of me: 'To my surprise and delight, a plate of tagliatelle tangled in a pale meat sauce appears. The texture is soft, surrendered and subtle.' It turns out the real thing is made from white wine (not red), cooked in milk and contains very few tomatoes... Layering the ingredients, cooking really slowly and serving it with tagliatelle as opposed to spaghetti are the remaining secrets to a proper Ragu Bolognese. Buon appetito!

Serves 6

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, washed, topped and tailed and very finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 1 kg ground beef shin (if you can't get shin make sure that the mince contains around 20% fat)
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 whole fresh nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 350ml dry white wine
  • 1x400g can of good-quality Italian chopped tomatoes (organic tend to be sweeter)

Tips

It goes without saying that this is a dreamboat to freeze. This is my favourite Thermos-packed lunch on skiing hols.

Instructions

  1. First melt the butter and oil in a very large saucepan over a medium heat and fry off the onion, celery and  carrots until the onion is translucent and the carrots tender.
  2. Next nudge the 'holy trinity' (this is what Italians call the combination of onion, carrot and celery because it delivers such a tremendous flavour base) to one side of the saucepan, away from the heat. Add the meat to the hottest part of the pan and fry until brown. This will take around 20 minutes. Be careful to make sure that the veg don't burn during this time and if you feel the pan is too crowded, remove the veg and set aside.
  3. Add the milk and bay leaves to the pan and mix the vegetables into the mince. Season generously with nutmeg, salt and a little pepper. Simmer uncovered slowly for about 20 minutes until there is no milk left, then add the wine and repeat. It's important to allow the last of the liquid to simmer away before adding the next. This is what gives the ragu its depth of flavour.
  4. When all the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 3 hours. You can expect the total cooking time to be around 4 hours.
  5. Go back to the pan every once in a while to make sure that the bottom of the pan isn't catching and also that the ragu isn't too dry. If it is, add a splash of water.
  6. Once the ragu is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve piping hot with fresh tagliatelle and freshly grated Parmesan.

Find out more about the author

Carneval

Harry Eastwood

'A collection of vibrant recipes'
Daily Telegraph

Packed full of delicious, satisfying recipes and loads of meat wisdom, Carneval promises to give you a better understanding of how to source, cook and appreciate the meat that you eat. Full of delicious meat recipes from around the world, popular family favourites, such as Swedish Meatballs and Ragu Bolognese, rub shoulders with more unusual dishes, like Middle Eastern Kibbeh and Chinese Kung Pao Chicken.
Whether you want to master the art of a perfectly cooked steak, or transform cheaper, tougher cuts into silky, melt-in-the-mouth delights, Harry Eastwood encourages you to honour the whole animal and eat meat with joy and moderation. The very best way to do that is to make sure that every meat meal is a Carneval.

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