Chianti Ragu with Porcini

It’s a comforting thought to have a batch of ragu in fridge or freezer, ready to be whipped into so many different meals. With pasta, obviously, over baked potatoes, sandwiched by mash to make a superior Hachis Parmentier or topped with mash for a luxury cottage pie. It is ideal, too, for lasagne, inside a fold of pan-fried tortilla to make quesadillas, or pastry to make little empanadas or larger pasties. A few dried porcini or other wild mushrooms bolsters the flavours a treat and using a spoonful of tomato puree instead of tinned or fresh tomatoes, keeps the ragu thick and creamy.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 60 min

15g dried porcini or wild mushrooms

1 medium onion

1 garlic clove

1 ½ (half) tbsp olive oil

1 stick celery

2 carrots, approx 175g

few sprigs fresh thyme

500g minced beef or veal or mix of the two

1 tbsp tomato puree

200ml chianti or other dry red wine

250ml chicken stock

Place the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to hydrate while you halve, peel and finely chop onion and garlic. Soften both over a medium-low heat in a heavy-based, lidded pan that can hold all the ingredients. Trim and finely chop the celery (peeled first if very fibrous). Scrape and finely dice the carrot. Finely chop the thyme. Stir all these ingredients into the onions and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, giving the odd stir. Finely chop the drained mushrooms. Crumble the meat into the onions and brown thoroughly before adding the red wine. Let it bubble away, before adding the tomato puree and stock. Adjust the heat, semi cover and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the heat slightly and simmer until thick and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Eat now or reheat later.