And another Monday rolls around, a day where I reflect on the week that was and the one to come. Last week I was in New York where it hit -6c! Luckily the temperature back home has been more forgiving, and with this morning being particularly dewy I’m happily convinced we are finally on the cusp of spring. The blossom on the pear tree in my garden is absolute affirmation of this!! Can I get a hells yeah!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, we’re not quite in salad season just yet. I’m still on the high carb high hearty diet, not the one that my bikini knows about. Over the weekend and on the back of a transatlantic jet lag I dedicated a few hours to make what I think is the true definition of Sunday sauce; beef ragù. A bolognese of sorts, sub the usual mince for a topside cut of beef and let it fall apart into a rich and comforting sauce that is best lapped up alongside silky ribbons of fresh pasta. There really is nothing quite like it.
I feel like I need to provide a bit of back story on the use of milk in ragù, and why you must use it (recognise the tone?). The late, wondrous Marcella Hazan insists in her famous ragù recipe that milk is added before tomatoes in order to ensure the meat is sweet and retains its succulence. If you’re raising an eyebrow put it back down, once you’ve tried it for yourself you’ll never go back.
On a side note, last week this little blog of mine hit 1,000 followers – so here’s to you guys and a big HELLO! Thank you for reading – you’re awesome x
Fresh Pasta with Beef Ragù
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Handful of fresh basil
2 bay leaves
1.5kg topside of beef, cut into small chunks
250ml whole milk
2 tablespoons tomato purée
200ml red wine
800g tinned whole tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes
Rind of Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
400g Tipo 00 flour
4 large eggs
In a large casserole pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion, carrot, garlic, basil and bay leaves and sauté until the onions become slightly translucent.
Add the beef and cook until just browned, then add the milk. Simmer for about 10 minutes then add the tomato purée and red wine. Reduce the liquid slightly by cooking uncovered for another 10 minutes or so, then add the tinned tomatoes, Parmesan rind and season generously.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and leave to bubble away gently for at least 2 hours. Use a fork to pull the meat apart slightly towards the end of cooking.
To make the pasta, tip the flour onto a work surface (or alternatively you can do this in a large bowl), and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and whisk with a fork for around a minute, then begin to gradually pull in the flour until it all starts to come together as dough.
Using as little flour as possible, knead the dough for a few minutes until it no longer sticks to your hands.
Cut the dough into four and start to roll it out with a pasta machine. I rolled mine out to the 4th thinnest setting (7) as I like my pasta wafer thin! Leave each length to dry out slightly on clean dish cloths.
Fold each length in half, then fold in half again and using a knife cut the pasta lengthways into three thick strips. Unravel the pasta and leave to dry out with a dusting of flour to prevent sticking.
When you’re ready, cook the pasta in salted water for one minute, drain and toss with some of the ragù and a splash of the pasta’s cooking water. Serve topped with extra ragù and grated Parmesan.