The days, they are getting shorter, and (as my shorts-in-10C-weather-wearing-friend would say) more “fresh”.
I prefer to term it “cold! Oh-so-cold!” myself.
And so it is, in these nippier climates, that thoughts turn to warming soups. Hearty stews. Butter-and-cream mashed potatoes and slow cooked joints of meat. And, of course, that dish that has so ubiquitously become known as “spag bol”.
Everyone has their own version. Some are vegetable-rich puddles of tomatoey broth, thickened with semi pureed carrots. Others, decidedly meaty, with the punch of spices and chilli.
Mine lies somewhere in between. A glistening, tomato based sauce, with a cheeky kick of one-too-many chillis, a mixture of minces and a good splash of wine on a “One for the pot, one for me! And, alright, one for you too” basis.
And whilst it doesn’t strictly fall into the “quick eats” category of food that I happen to be rather the fan of these days, it doesn’t involve a huge amount of active cooking time. Instead, the pot is left to bubble over a low heat for, say, two hours, whilst a nap is taken. Or a book is read. Or a familiar flick through photos of times gone by is undertaken whilst the fragrance of a dinner-almost-ready permeates the room and sends your tummy rumbling.
shez’s macaroni ragu (aka not-quite-spag-bol)
An original recipe by Shez. (And, truthfully, I feel rather the fool for sticking this tagline in, as, really, all my recipes are original unless otherwise stated. But it seems to be de riguer. And so.)
I love eating my ragu with macaroni in place of the standard spaghetti. It possibly has everything to do with its ability to be shovelled into my my mouth without the potential for spaghetti-splatter, but I’ll say that the real reason is the thrill that I get when bite into a seemingly innocuous tube and am startled by a small explosion of flavour when the sauce within breaks free. So poetic. Which this dish is not. Not really.
you will need:
500g mince meat (I use a mixture of pork & veal)
5 cloves of garlic
1 small tub of tomato paste (about 140ml)
1 cup red wine
2 stalks of celery
pinch of nutmeg
macaroni (as much as you’d like)
fresh basil to serve
how to do it:
1. Dice your carrot, celery & onion. Cut the stalks of the chilli & cut it into a micro-dice. I left the seeds in. It was awesome. Peel & finely dice your garlic.
2. Toss a little bit of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and brown the mince in batches. Take it out and put it to one side.
3. Toss all of your veges in at once and cook slowly until the celery & onions soften. The carrots will still be a little firm. Because they’re carrots.
4. Tip the mince back into the pot, sprinkle with nutmeg, toss the tomato paste, water & red wine in and stir to combine. Pop the lid on and let it simmer for an hour or two.
5. Pull the lid off and turn up the heat so that it bubbles away and the sauce thickens. Once it’s reached your desired thickness, spoon it over cooked macaroni and toss some freshly torn basil over the top.
6. Scoff heartily. (And put about 1/3 of it away for lunch the next day, or you’ll end up feeling horribly bloated…)