I'll start with my customary shot of the chef I'm gonna impersonate, which today is Mario Batali (here showing off his worrying love of pork):
I saw this video of him making Ragu Bolognese on youtube:
and I've been hassling my butcher for veal mince ever since. The don't sell veal mince front of shop but I had been told by the boss that whilst supplying veal to restaurants around Manchester they sometimes made mince from the trimmings around the weekend. However since then it's been one no after another. But going in the other day for a few sausages, there it was out front. All I needed was 3/4 pound but I dived in and got a kilo, most of which is still sitting in the freezer. So I set upon it, first sweating mirepoix in olive oil and butter:
Next came pork mince, beef mince, and, of course, veal mince:
This was the key moment. On the video Mario says to keep cooking this on a low heat till all the fat is rendered and the meat is browning in a crackling pan. I did render all the fat on the meat but it wasn't browning and crackling quite like the video. I'm pretty sure the mince I had was just too lean. Some of the mirepoix were trying to stick to the bottom and burn so I cut a loose end on it to prevent ruining the ragu and put in the tomato paste:
This was slowly simmered for another 40 minutes of so till there was one big gooey tomato and meat mess. Then I threw in a cup of milk to deglaze the bits off the bottom of the casserole and start to form a kind of sauce:
This was reduced down to nothing, then deglazed again with a cup of white wine, and reduced down again. Lid on, I left it on a really low heat for 1 hour, arriving at the final ragu:
To finish I put together some homemade spinach tagliatelle:
Boiled the pasta, and sauteed it with some ragu:
And served with a touch of parmesan:
Final shot is a little weak I'm afraid, again my stomach was ruling my head, but to be honest it isn't much of a looker of a dish anyway. The ragu was really nice, loads of depth. I especially like the creaminess the milk gives it. It probably would've been better if I could've achieved the scorched mince effect Mario did, next time I'll make sure to get fattier meat. Nevertheless, the real star was the pasta. It's the first time I've made spinach pasta, and it gave the dish a real feel of lightness to counteract the heavy sauce. In fact, I wish I hadn't combined it with so much ragu - it really was nice pasta. Even better, it only took around 50 minutes to make (factoring in 30 minutes resting time for the dough). I'll definitely do it again, especially seeing as it only took 2 eggs, compared to richer pastas I've made in the past using anywhere up to 7 (6 yolks and a whole egg). The recipe is in Leith's Cookery Bible if anyone is interested.
The fallout from the dish was that I have been lamenting since that there are so few places that serve really good fresh pasta. Don't get me wrong, I love good dried pasta too, but on a special occasion the fresh stuff really makes an impact. I suppose I should get some perspective, there are certainly bigger absences in the UK restaurant scene than quality pasta, but that's for another day...