Sorting out bits of paper to send to my accountant before the end of January, I am finding much more tempting reminders of events during the last tax year.
The Times from March 2017 carries the headline, The Great Bolognese Battle which all started with Mary Berry admitting she added cream and white wine to her ragu. No great crime, especially as both Elizabeth David and Antonio Carluccio use white wine and Anna del Conte specifies full-fat milk in her recipe. To use garlic would be a far worse transgression.
The consensus is that Anna del Conte’s recipe for ragu is the best. It is the one that Nigella Lawson loves. I’m pleased that my version, which I have been cooking for over 30 years, is much the same. I use exactly the same ingredients with the exception of pork.Also, I prefer to use smoked, not unsmoked, lardons.
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
100g smoked lardons
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery stick, finely chopped
350g good quality minced beef
75 ml red wine or Marsala
2 tbsp tomato purée, diluted in a little chicken stock
A grated nutmeg
70-80 ml full-fat milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the butter and olive oil in a large casserole and gently fry the onions. When soft, add the lardons and cook until they colour. Add the carrot and celery and let them cook gently for about five minutes until they are soft. Add the beef and let it cook until it is coloured. Use a wooden spatula to break up any lumps.
Pour in the wine and cook briskly for a few minutes. then add the tomato purée, diluted in a little stock (or water), the grated nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes and then add the milk which should come level with the meat. Let the sauce bubble before turning down the heat very low and letting the sauce cook, uncovered, for two hours. Alternatively, cover the casserole and let the sauce cook in a low oven until thick and dark.
Use as the basis for lasagne or serve with penne or tagliatelle.