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Taking Things Further

I love meals that go further. Even if you completely change the way you serve it. A classic example of this is roast dinner leftovers. If you have chicken leftover, shred it and put it in a salad. If it's beef, slice it nice and thin for sandwiches. Et cetera et cetera.

For one thing, a lot of food tastes better the next day. Especially if it's some sort of saucy dish like a stew or pasta or curry. Curry is definitely nicer the next day. There is so much that goes into these sauces that the longer they sit together, the longer the flavours can meld together and become extra delicious.

I find this is very true when it comes to pasta sauce (ragu). I've got into the habit now of freezing half of my pasta sauce. If I make a ragu, there is normally too much to go over pasta for just two of us - and that's even with an extra portion for the next day's lunch. That ragu will go on pretty much anything, not just pasta. You could turn it into chilli or put it in a lasagne (still pasta, I know, but not the conventional pasta and sauce combo). Sometimes the easiest thing is just putting it on a baked potato, topping with sour cream and voila. It's extra yummy if it's a sweet potato.

I'm very proud of my ragu. I thought I'd already posted it but having gone through my recipes, it doesn't look like I have. I learned this recipe from watching Loretta - the old Italian cook in the convento in San Gimignano. Her recipes are to die for. I've been to Tuscany many times since my volunteering days and only once have I ever had food as traditional as the food she used to make. Here is Loretta's recipe for a good ragu.

Loretta's Ragu

  • 500g beef mince

  • 1 large red onion

  • 1 stick celery

  • 2 carrots, peeled

  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes or 1 red chilli, finely diced

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 1 tin tomatoes

  • 1 glass (125 ml- ish) red wine

First, use the onion, celery, carrots and garlic to make a sofrito. You can either do this in a food processor or you can chop everything really finely (I would grate the carrots if you choose the second option). Blitz everything until you get a paste and cook it off in olive oil in a saucepan (or chop everything finely and staring with the garlic add everything to the saucepan individually: garlic - onion - celery - carrot).

Add the chilli and stir it in. Cook everything for a couple of minutes, really releasing the flavour. Add the beef mince and brown it well, stirring all the time to break it up. Cook of the mince until the juices released have mostly evaporated (do not drain!). Add the red wine and cook it off for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, half fill the tin with water and add the water. Stir everything together and add a generous half tablespoon of salt and some pepper - yes, yes I know.

Bring everything to the boil and then reduce for a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for AT LEAST half an hour. For best results, simmer for 2 hours. But I mean really gently simmer.

Serve on anything your heart (and stomach) desires.


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