My long-time friend, Toni de Coninck, from Belgium came over for a whirlwind visit.
He is a fellow foodie and we met ten years ago at Gourmand World Cookbook Awards where my cookbook, The Kundalini Yoga Cookbook, was a finalist. Toni says, “Too bad I don’t have time to cook my ragu for you.”
We all have our heirloom ragu recipe – mine has marmite. Toni’s different. But however different, homemade ragu always tastes nothing like the sweet, sticky goo you get if you make it with mass-produced sauce.
He sent me his recipe. Here it is, in his own words.
The secret is time. Time and a decent red wine. First you fry your sofrito in olive oil: 1 chopped carrot, 1 branch of celery, 1 large onion or 2 big shallots. Finely chopped, fry until the onion looks glazed.
I most commonly use 50/50 minced veal and minced pork. Now some people add the meat to the sofrito in this stage, but I fry it in a separate pan so the meat can fry golden brown and in somewhat larger chunks. I find this important because it gives more substance to the later sauce.
Season the meat with black pepper, salt, herbes provencales and if you can find it sweet paprika or pimenton de la vera.
If fried, add the meat to the sofrito, put the whole thing under red wine (half a bottle will do) and bring to a boiling point until all the alcohol has evaporated.
Then add stock or water and 1 large tin of tomato paste or Spanish tomato frito. Put it to simmer, and let it simmer slowly for 3 or 4 hours until it all comes together.
Now, commonly I would use linguine or tagliatelle and it is important to add the sauce to the pasta before serving, so it kinda clings itself to the starch.
Only use freshly grated parmigiana and drink it away with the rest of the red wine.