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Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style
inspired by Delia
(Image by TSL)

My weaknesses have always been food and men – in that order. (Dolly Parton)

I like to cook. Which is rather fortunate, because I also like to eat. And, as I get older I find myself becoming more particular about what I will eat, and where my food comes from.

There are times, though, when even the most passionate of cooks can’t face the kitchen. I have friends back in New Zealand who have lovely wee lamb cutlets as their ‘go to’ meal when they can’t be bothered thinking about cooking at the end of a particularly long work day. I think they may even have a super-special crumb recipe in which they coat their wee cutlets. They buy the little chops in bulk, do their magic ‘crumb-thingy’, and then freeze them in portion-size packages. Yum.

My go-to ‘can’t be bothered thinking about cooking‘ answer has long been to have portion-sized containers of Delia Smith’s Authentic Ragu Bolognese in my freezer. It’s so good and has a secret ingredient to make it seriously smooth and rich. Chicken livers. Yep. That’s right – chicken livers.

Wanna’ know why we should eat more chicken liver? Among other things, it is:

  • high in protein and a rich store of folate
  • loaded with iron (for energy and immune system health)
  • a treasure trove of certain B vitamins, most notably B12 (guards your body against anemia, good for tissue repair).
  • one of the top sources of vitamin A (which promotes good eyesight)

And, even if the idea of liver has you running for the hills, you won’t even know it’s in this recipe. True!

I used to make the ragu as part of Delia’s Lasagne al Forno. That’s no longer an option in the gluten-free, dairy-free world I now cook in at Casa TSL.* So, now I just make the ragu and have it on hand for whenever I can’t face the kitchen…

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style
inspired by Delia
(Image by TSL)

Lately, I’ve had a wee bit of a girl-crush on Alexx Stuart of Real Food. Low Tox Living. She is a great proponent of eating real food, which just makes a lot of sense to me (and I like her pragmatic, unpretentious style). I saw her in action at the MINDD Foundation ‘Food is Medicine’ seminar. Now I like her even more!

And, as a result of Alexx’s presentation, I received a metaphorical kick-in-the-bum regarding making my own stocks from grass-fed bones again. So, this past week, I picked up some lovely bones from G.R.U.B. and made a massive batch of beef bone broth. So much, in fact, that I couldn’t fit it all in the freezer.

With all this excess broth and a need to replenish my emergency supplies of ragu, I have adapted Delia’s recipe to suit my needs. And, you know what? It works AND it’s more kiddie-friendly because there’s no wine in it. Delia’s recipe makes 8 225g portions, each serving 2 people. Mine makes more…

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style
inspired by Delia
(Image by TSL)

Ragu Bolognese TSL-Style
(adapted from Delia Smith’s recipe)

Ingredients:
About 500g grass-fed Beef mince
About 500g pork mince (from happy pigs)
Coconut oil (or fat of choice)
About 225g chicken livers
2 x medium onions (chopped)
4 x large cloves of garlic (minced)
About 150g speck (or pancetta), chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
4 x heaped tablespoons tomato paste
500ml beef bone broth (preferably home-made!)
Fresh herb of choice (basil, parsley or whatever you have to hand)
Salt & Pepper
Sea Vegetables (Optional, but soooooo good for you! I use this one)
grated nutmeg (preferably fresh)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 140°C (275°F)
  2. Heat your largest frying pan over a medium heat. Add a generous dollop of coconut oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic until softened – about ten minutes. Give it a stir every now and then.
  3. Add the chopped speck to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large casserole (my beloved le Creuset holds just over 4 litres).
  4. Add some more coconut oil to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Add the minced beef in batches to brown. I use a wooden fork to break it up in the pan. Add the cooked mince to the casserole. Repeat until all your beef is browned.
  5. Do the same with the pork mince. While the pork mince is cooking, rinse the chicken livers and dry them with a paper towel. Trim off any sinew and chop them into teeny-tiny pieces.
  6. Once the pork is browned and transferred to the casserole, heat a little more coconut oil and briefly brown the chicken livers. Add these to the casserole.
  7. Place the casserole over a direct medium heat and give everything a good stir. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bone broth and a generous seasoning of good salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the nutmeg (and the sea vegetables, if you are going to. Go on – dare you!). Stir again and allow to come to a simmer.
  8. Add the chopped leaves of about half a bunch of basil or parsley
  9. place the casserole in the oven (without a lid) for four hours. I give it a stir every hour or so. You should end up with a thick, unctuous meaty sauce with only a teeny bit of liquid.
  10. Check for seasoning and add the remaining half bunch of your herbs.
  11. When the sauce has cooled, divide it up. Delia reckons 225g feeds two people, so that’s the measure I go with. I use my scales.

Some suggestions for your ragu:

  • the obvious one – over pasta, gnocchi or noodled squash or zucchini
  • as a pizza topping
  • as a stuffing for potato, kumara (sweet potato), eggplant, peppers or mushrooms
  • as a sauce over steamed or roasted vegetable (my preferred option is over roasted broccoli)
  • in shakshuka (baked eggs)
  • As a super fancy-schmancy mince-on-toast
Bolognese-stuffed Eggplant

Bolognese-stuffed Eggplant
(Image from Taste)

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart. (Cesar Chavez)

*But, if you don’t have these limitations and you feel like showing your family and/or friends just how much you love them, Delia’s lasagne recipe is an absolute corker. SERIOUSLY GOOD.

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