Here at the Busby Babe, we’ve always been committed to bringing you the very best football reporting and analysis. To that end, here is our recipe for the finest ragu we have made.
Ingredients to serve four (or one over the course of a day on lockdown)
- 500g beef: (in order of preference: oxtail (use more to compensate for the amount of bone), flat rib, mince with a decent amount of fat)
- One medium-to-large onion
- One stick of celery
- One large carrot
- Two cloves of garlic
- Two bay leaves
- Oregano and fresh thyme
- Beef stock (cubes are fine but you know, try not to)
- Half a bottle of red wine
- 100ml port or Madeira
- Red wine vinegar
- A tin of chopped tomatoes
- Tomato puree
- Parmesan rind
Add one or two tablespoons to a deep saucepan which will not be damaged by a medium heat. Brown the meat. Actually brown it. Don’t turn it from raw to grey, get it almost crunchy on the outside. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes, and you’ll know you’ve the right temperature when you are being regularly hurt by fat spitting out of the pan onto your arms, and ruining the hob and surrounding areas with great gobs of grease collecting.
Put the meat in a bowl.
Dice the onion, celery and carrot into small cubes. Drain the pan of the sunflower oil remnants and at a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Lightly fry the onions for about 10 minutes, so they soften but do not colour. I am not going to bullshit you: the onions are nowhere near done yet. Add the carrot and celery and then cook on a low heat until the onion is actually cooked. If you do not know what this looks like, then I am sorry, I cannot help you.
Add two cloves of finely chopped garlic and continue to fry for two minutes on a low heat. Add two bay leaves. One minute. A tablespoon of tomato puree. One minute, tops.
Take a capful or two of red wine vinegar and add to the pan. It should sizzle immediately and at this point scrap the bottom of the pan to dislodge the various brown bits caught by the cooking process so far. Add the meat back in. Add a tin of chopped tomato. Add half a bottle of red wine, and the port or Madeira. You can top it up with a bit more water to make sure most of the ingredients are submerged.
You can drink the rest of it depending on what time it is. If it is the evening, you have started cooking this too late anyway so have a drink while you make something else to eat. If it is lunchtime, you can drink the rest. If it is morning, you can also drink the rest.
Add the Parmesan rind. If you have more than one, add them too. There can’t really be too many in the sauce while it cooks. Add the stock. Add the oregano and thyme. Give it all a bit of a stir and put the lid on the pan. Stick it on the hob on an extraordinarily low heat or put it in the oven at about 130 degrees. If you are American, I am sorry, and I will also clarify I mean centigrade, not miles or ounces.
Cook at least four hours, but ideally as long as you can bear. You may need to check every couple of hours to stir it to prevent bits on the bottom getting caught, but this is less of problem if it is in the oven. You might want to top it up now and then to give everything enough to swim in for now.
When you are an hour away from wanting to eat, take the lid off and place on the hob. Reduce the sauce to the desired level. Remove the Parmesan rind. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you are cooking with a piece of meat rather than mince, you can do the following:
Take the meat out of the pan. Sieve the sauce to remove the veg and so you are left with a dark red sauce. Shred the meat and reintroduce to the veg-less sauce.
You can now add it to the pasta, along with inordinate amounts of grated cheddar. Do not try to argue with me that an Italian hard cheese would be better because it would be like arguing that Jordan Henderson is good at football: you would simply be wrong.