Extra virgin olive oil
3 x carrot, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x celery sticks, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x onions, finely diced
3 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x anchovy
5 large tomatoes
50g sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped or blitzed in a blender
150g tomato puree
2 x large handfuls of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground cumin
500g lean mince beef
2 x bay leaves
300ml Italian tomato sauce
Once you have completed all the preparation, get a large saucepan, pour in a generous lug of olive oil and get it onto a high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Add the anchovy and fry this hard until it starts to break up and disappear. At this point add your carrots and bring the heat down to a medium heat.
Fry these for about 5 minutes, then add the onion and celery and reduce the heat to a low heat and continue to fry this until the onions begin to caramelise (usually twenty to twenty five minutes) stirring occasionally.
While this is happening you need to skin, quarter, core and de-seed the tomatoes. To skin them you will need a pan of boiling water and a bowl of ice cold water. First score an X on to the bottom of each tomato, with the water boiling hard, carefully pop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in the bowl of ice water to stop them cooking and make them easier to handle. Now you should be able to remove the skin by simply tearing from where you made the X. Next quarter the tomatoes and using a teaspoon remove the core and seeds in one go, you only want the flesh of the tomato. Remember to keep an eye on the main saucepan while you are doing this.
If the onions are starting to caramelise by now, simply remove the pan from the heat. Begin to fry the mince, with a pinch of cumin powder, in a large frying pan over a high heat. You want to brown the meat as quickly as possible, making sure that you brown all the meat.
Depending on the quality of the mince you may find that it releases some water once you start to fry it, if this happens keep the heat as high as you can and keep turning and moving the mince until all the water boils off. This can take a bit of time so don’t forget about the other pan, and remove it from the heat if the onions start to caramelise before the meat is done. You want to keep frying the mince until it is completely dry looking and starts to stick to your frying pan.
At this point your onions should have started to caramelise and you may have removed them from the heat, if you have, get them back onto a low heat for about a minute then add the meat. If the onions haven’t started to caramelise then turn the heat down on the meat and give it an occasional stir until the onions start to caramelise and then add the meat and stir the lot together.
By now there may well be some mince and fat stuck to your frying pan, this is great because that’s pure flavour. Add a good splash of your wine to the frying pan and using a wooden spoon or spatula gently stir and scrape those little bits off the pan, the heat and wine should make this very easy and in less than a minute all that flavour should have combined with the wine which you can now pour into the saucepan.
With regards to the wine: The conventional wisdom is to use red wine. If you have some available great, however the day I came up with this recipe, I looked at our collection of unfinished bottles and there were no reds, as I didn’t want to open a bottle of red just for this, I picked up a bottle of white wine, a Sauternes (very sweet wine) that had been open too long and had started to vinegar a little. A quick bit of measuring and in it went.
Now if my mum was still alive I would have gotten an earful, not only letting such a good wine start to vinegar but also for using it for cooking, that is until she tasted the end result, this gave the whole dish a different flavour than if I had used a red wine and exaggerated the caramelised flavour of the veg in a way that’s hard to describe.
Next you will need to add all the tomatoes, tomato purée, the blitzed sun-dried tomatoes, Italian tomato sauce, oregano, the rest of the wine, basil, bay leaves and stir gently.
Now bring this up to a medium heat and start to add the water, while stirring continuously. You want to add enough water so that the sauce is slightly thinner than you want the end result to be. In my case this turned out to be 500ml almost exactly but depending on the water contents of your ingredients you may require less or more. Once you’re happy with the consistency bring it to a very gentle simmer and cover the pot.
You want to simmer this for at least an hour stirring it occasionally. After an hour give it a good stir, if it’s still a little thinner than you like leave the lid off and let it simmer for a few more minutes and it should thicken up. I’ve had this Ragu simmering for up to 3 hours on occasion and if anything it just improves the flavours.
Finally, taste it and season it with salt and pepper if required and stir in 2 tablespoons of the best extra virgin olive oil you can find.
I like to serve this with fresh Tagliatelle and some Parmesan cheese, grated fresh over the top at the table.
Thankfully this recipe freezes really well and is ideal for freezing in bags as described here, 150ml is a serving so we tend to freeze it in bags of 300ml for the two of us. Alternatively, we’ve found the leftovers make great pizza. just spread some on your pizza base, add some cheese over the top (crumbled Mozzarella if you want to be really decadent) and cook as usual.
Vinaigrette dressings are very quick and simple to make and this recipe is a good “standard” dressing to learn. It’s ridiculously easy and quick to make and if you store it in the fridge will keep for about a month.
The secret of a vinaigrette is simple – three parts fat to one part acid with some mustard, salt and pepper to help the emulsifying.
Get a clean and preferably sterilised glass bottle and start by putting some balsamic vinegar in, fill it about an eighth of the way up.
Then add roughly three times as much extra virgin olive oil, followed by a pinch of salt and pepper. Lastly add a little French mustard.
Now seal the bottle and shake it for about a minute. Take a small taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Now let it sit for about 10 minutes, if it starts to split into layers then add a little more mustard and repeat the process. All vinaigarettes will separate eventually but ideally you want one that stays emulsified for 10 minutes or so.
Store this in a cool dry place until you’re ready to use it. Then give the bottle a shake and drizzle lightly over your salad to serve.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute so many different things, I regularly use lemon or lime juice instead of balsamic vinegar.
I’ve also been known to use some truffle oil or other flavoured extra virgin olive oils to give a little variety to the taste. It’s a great recipe to experiment with as you can come up with something that is completely unique to your tastes and preference.
I have to say I find that lemon juice really freshens the flavour of any salad and makes it something special for any occasion and in case you’re wondering it’s taken me far longer to type this recipe than it takes to make it, so have fun with it and if you find a combination you really like please let us know in the comments.
Start by getting a roasting tin large enough to hold both racks of ribs and adding the apple juice and a splash of Cider Vinegar to the tin. Next take a chopping board and sprinkle some of the BBQ rub on to it.
Now place the racks into the roasting tin and make sure they are well covered in the liquid. One at a time remove the racks and place them on your chopping board, sprinkle liberally with the BBQ rub until they are coated, massage the rub into the ribs, you should feel the rub start to feel more like a smooth paste, once the entire rack feels like this, wrap it in clingfilm, put it in the fridge and move onto the second rack.
Once both racks are rubbed, wrapped in clingfilm and in the fridge, pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a sealed container and store this, then do the dishes 😉 The racks will need to sit overnight before cooking.
The next day, take the racks out of the fridge at least an hour before you are ready to start cooking, this allows them to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 130C.
Once the racks are up to room temperature, place them curved side up (think sad face) in your roasting tray and cook them for an hour and a half.
Remove them from the oven and turn them over (think happy face) now pour half the juice and vinegar mixture into each rack, don’t worry if it spills out the ends. Now either cover the roasting tray or wrap it in tin foil folding the ends over to make a sealed parcel around the tray. You can wrap each rack individually but I find it easier to handle when I just wrap the lot. Place back in the oven for another hour and a half. if you haven’t already made the BBQ sauce this is the perfect time to do it, although I would recommend having it ready in advance.
Once the time is up remove them from the oven, get rid of the foil and drain away the liquid. It’s easiest to remove the racks carefully (they will be quite tender and likely to fall apart) rather than to try to hold the racks while pouring the liquid away, or you could use a turkey baster to remove the liquid.
Put the ribs back on the tray (if you have removed them) and pop them back into the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out a little.
Once they’re dry remove them from the oven again and brush on the BBQ Sauce, generously, on both sides. Now pop them back into the oven for thirty minutes, so the sauce/glaze has time to set.
Depending on the mood you may like to serve each rack as a portion with a small salad and some coleslaw or split them in half with a larger salad to serve 4. Whichever way you decide to serve them, be aware that they will be incredibly tender so be careful when moving them.
Now sit back and enjoy, what is to me, the greatest of all soul food dishes.
In a large pan, cover your pork knuckle with approx 2.5 litres of tap water and add your bay leaves. Bring this to the boil and then simmer for 2.5 hours, with the lid on.
Next, add the carrot, celery and turnips and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for a further 35 mins.
While this is cooking, cut your greens up into 4-5cm pieces and then add them to the pot when the previous listed time is up. Push them down well into the pot and cook for 5 mins, then stir well and cook for a further 20 mins.
Take the pan off the heat and carefully lift out the pork knuckle with tongs onto a chopping board. Cut away the skin and fat and dispose of these. Then shred the meat with a couple of forks and stir it into the pot. Taste the dish and season as needed with salt and pepper and add a little swig of white wine vinegar.
Serve a mix of the vegetables, meat and some broth. Dress it with a little olive oil and some white wine vinegar to bring out the flavours