Hello again kind readers! BBC1 here to post the recipe BBC2 spoke of. This recipe came about because of BBC2’s Spooner’s Brummie Bacon & Cheese Cake. He had wanted to make this since seeing it on TV. He was also determined to make it for our “Brummie” chief taster and mate Lizzie. It’s great with soup, either my Easy Peasy Tomato Soup or, I think, especially with BBC2’s Minestrone Soup.
But we had already had soup the last time Lizzie came for lunch so I wanted to make a dish that had lots of sauce which could be mopped up with this lovely savoury bread. This is how the ragu came about. The name came about because of the awful weather we have had here lately and the use of port in the recipe. It is a really nice savoury dish that needs to be cooked low and slow to allow a depth of flavour to develop. The resulting ragu can then be used in a variety of dishes. For example, the baked pasta dish shown here or as a simple spaghetti dish also shown. Another way to use it would be for a beef and tomato cobbler, with some lovely parsley dumplings. It’s up to you! But this makes a generous amount of the sauce.
6 to 8 rashers of streaky bacon diced small (could use pancetta)
250 gm minced beef
250 gm stewing or braising steak (cut into approx 1cm cubes)
2 carrots finely diced
2 onions finely diced
2 celery sticks finely diced
2 cloves garlic grated or minced
3 to 4 good glugs of port
3x450gm cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbs of tomato purée
1 beef stock cube
2 cups hot water – I used one of the empty tomato cans and rinsed them all out with the water – waste not want not!
1/2 tsp of dried Italian seasoning (optional)
2tbs of oil
2 tbs of flour seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta bake:
Approx 400gm of penne pasta
Six or seven slices of Mozzarella cheese
A generous amount of grated Cheddar cheese
2 tbs of sesame seeds
Firstly, dredge the small cubed braising steak in the seasoned flour. I use a plastic bag to do this. Then use a good sized deep bottomed pan on a medium high heat and fry off the streaky bacon, set aside on a plate and retain the bacon fat in the pan. Next brown the minced beef in small batches and set aside on the plate with the bacon. Then add a tbs of oil to the pan, if needed, and brown the floured steak in the same way and set aside on the same plate.
Now add the next tbs of oil and the finely diced onions to the same pan, on a medium heat. After a couple of minutes add the carrots, celery and minced/grated garlic, with a little salt. Fry this for a further couple of minutes until the onions etc are translucent. If using, now add the dried herbs.
After a minute or so, add all the meat back to the pan and crumble in your stock cube. Then add the port to deglaze the pan and allow time for the alcohol to burn off and the liquid to reduce by half.
Next add the tomato purée, stir vigorously, and allow to cook off for a couple of minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and the water. Add a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let this simmer for at least 3 to 4 hours.
Taste for seasoning and if needed add salt and pepper to taste.
I left this to ‘steep’ overnight before using half to make the baked pasta dish and we are using the rest with spaghetti. The ragu freezes very well!
The baked pasta dish:
Boil pasta according to manufacturers instructions. But do not fully cook, as it will finish in the oven and soak up much of the ragu sauce.
Mix the ragu and the pasta together in a large casserole dish and layer the top with your mozzarella cheese slices. Then add a generous amount of grated cheddar cheese and finally sprinkle this with sesame seeds.
Place in a preheated oven 180c for approx 30 mins until the top is golden and crispy. Serve with good bread like, Spooner’s Brummie Bacon & Cheese Cake, or a nice green salad.
Use the the rest of the ragu like a bolognese sauce with spaghetti.
The port really gave this a depth of flavour and using two types of beef, cooked slowly, really intensified the flavour.
Do let us know if you give it a go or come up with your own version!