I have to start this with the usual disclaimer that this I don’t claim this to be authentic, so don’t set your Italian nonnas on me. This recipe came out of a chat with an internet friend of mine where we spent a good few hours swapping our favourite methods for creating our best meals and it dawned on me I hadn’t done a “proper” ragu in a long time.
The beauty of this freezer staple is it costs little to make and is so rich a little goes a long way. This batch has done me 6 small portions of lasagne and 3 large portions ready to be defrosted and stirred into pasta. I picked up most of what I needed from my local butcher and grocer, I appreciate this may be difficult for some of you, but a lot of the large supermarkets are doing a great job with their butchers so have a look at them for your shin bones and livers.
We are going to be using chicken livers, please do not fear them, they introduce a savoury and almost funky layer to the ragu as well as that aforementioned richness. Feel free to skip them if they squick you out but I implore your to be brave and embrace nose to tail (beak to tail?) eating whilst money is tight.
Also, as a warning, I bunged this together so bear with me on the weights of ingredients, I am not one for weighing things unless I am baking. Also please do add wine if you have it, I didn’t and I wasn’t going to risk catching the ‘rona from someone for the sake of a cheap bottle of red.
I look forward to seeing your efforts on Twitter’s #PastaMonday hashtag.
You will need
- 750g beef shin
- 250g sausage meat (can use packet sausage and take the skins off
- 4 rashers of smoked bacon
- 200g chicken livers
- Half a beef shin bone (my butcher sorted this for me)
- 2 good-sized onions
- 2 good-sized carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 6 cloves of garlic (i like garlic, please use less if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes
- 1 litre of chicken or beef stock, homemade if you can
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- dried herbs such as parsley and basil
- Preheat the oven to around 180c, pop the bone on a tray lined with foil to catch all the goodness and roast for around half hour to an hour. Your house will smell amazing.
- Whilst your bone is doing its thing, pop a big pan on the a low to medium heat and sear your beef in at medium heat in batches then remove and put to one side. Do the same with your sausage meat and bacon.
- Lower the heat on the pan and using some of the fat drained from your roasting bone, gently sweat your chopped onions, carrot and celery until they’re a bit sticky and translucent. Do not believe anyone that tells you this will take 10 minutes, go low and slow and reap the rewards.
- Add your tomato paste and let it cook out gently.
- Puree your chicken livers and add to the mix, stirring gently.
- Next, add the rest of your meat and your herbs and turn up the heat a little. Get it all coated. Season.
- Crush the plum tomatoes and add, then use the stock to swill out the can and add enough that it should cover the meat. Add the sugar.
- Finally, add the bone to the mix and bring the mix to a gentle rolling boil.
- Turn down the oven to around 120c and pop a lid on the pan. I cooked mine for about 5 hours and checked it every hour after 3 to make sure it wasn’t cooking dry. Use water or any leftover stock to loosen it up if it’s getting too thick.
- Once the beef is as soft as butter, remove the bone and set to one side.
- Take a potato masher or fork and set to work breaking down the mix, you don’t want it smooth but the beef should be shredding easily.
- Leave to cool then potion up as needed. Will freeze well.
- I used the bone in the pressure cooker with some water and vegetable peeling to make a hearty beef stock before disposing of.