Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Recipe XXIX - Tomato Ragú à la Bolognese with Tagliatelle

Italian food is always tricky to make, because Italians will never say it's the right recipe. It wasn't done by an Italian in an Italian way using Italian products. Well, I don't really care - it's like a Skoda Fabia: it has a Volkswagen engine, it was designed by Germans and parts of it were made in far-flung places like Ukraine and Spain, but nobody would dare call the Skoda anything but Czech. The fact Italians can talk so passionately about following the rules in the kitchen, yet wouldn't even slow down for an old lady crossing at a red traffic light outside a police station is really showing where their priorities lie.
This recipe is just a theme on a variation, a ragú-like dish which anyone whose surname doesn't end in "-ini" or "-ossi" can identify with, even if Italians themselves don't. And any entire nation who votes for a corrupt, sex-mad TV mogul as Prime Minister TWICE has absolutely no right to criticise the following recipe!

500g minced beef
5 cloves of garlic, crushed under a wide knife and diced
10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
7 peppercorns, crushed in a pestle & mortar
7 mushrooms
1/3 of a large courgette, sliced and quartered
2 onions, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
A large glass of red wine
A tin of diced tomatoes or a carton of passata
Grated cheese (see after the recipe)

Take a bowl and put in the minced beef. Take a large pinch of salt, the chopped basil, the crushed pepper and the crushed garlic, and with a fork mix the ingredients up until they are well integrated.

Put them in a frying pan with olive oil and move about until the red changes to brown.
In a separate frying pan, put in the onions and red pepper; allow them to sweat and then add some more olive oil before you put in the courgette and the mushrooms, because they suck in the oil.

After about 5 minutes, add the mince from the other frying pan, the wine (see the photo below for the amount of wine I dared to use!) and the tomatoes, and cook on a medium heat for 45 minutes.

Serve with pasta and a generous portion of cheese.

Another thing I would like to mention, is that Cheddar is an ideal accompaniment to Bolognese. It has much less pungency about it than Parmigiano and blends in so well. I think Cheddar is one of the most underrated cheeses, and gets a bad reputation from its processed namesakes, used in American fast food *the author spits*.
If any Italians criticise your choice of cheese, let them know - it is better to have imagination and mix & match ingredients than to slavishly follow a recipe to the letter, in case Mamma would disapprove!

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