Ragu: Meat sauce, Bolognese style... based on recipe by Marcella Hazan.

Spaghetti is one of the most favourite dishes in my house. I always want to freeze a portion, so I can have it as a quick dinner during the weak, when I get back from work but... there's usually nothing left to freeze... This recipe intrigued me from the very beginning as I've never made my spaghetti sauce with milk. I must admit - I was missing something really good. The meat is only sauteed, not browned and the milk makes it extra soft and delicate. Long, slow cooking creates creamy, thick and slightly sweet tasting sauce. A great recipe, easy to make - you just have to leave it bubbling away so the time can do its wonders!

This recipe comes from a fantastic cook book "The Irish beef book" and was inspired/based on Marcella Hazan's famous ragu recipe.

How to make it...

- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 40 g butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 large stick celery, chopped small
- 1 medium carrot, chopped small
- 350 g minced beef, not too lean
- 1 green pepper, chopped small (it's my addition, any opportunity to sneak some
more veges for my little sous chefs ;) )
- 240 ml dry white wine (I used rose Bordeaux)
- 120 full fat milk
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- sea salt

In a heavy deep, cast iron casserole dish, heat the oil and butter and chopped onion. Cook the onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well in all the fat.
Add the minced beef, crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook only until beef has lost its raw, red color. Do not brown the meat! 
Add wine, turn the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally until the wine has evaporated. Turn the heat down and add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add the nutmeg and stir.
Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.
Cook, uncovered, for 3-4 hours or more, stirring from time to time. At the end of cooking the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Serve with spaghetti pasts - about 100 g per person for a main meal.


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