As promised yesterday, it’s time for your sugo masterclass.
(That's Italian for 'sauce', by the way).
Let me warn you about this recipe: it’s heavy duty. There’s a lot of it. We’re talking enough to cater for your entire Big Italian Family’s Sunday dinner, not your quiet nuclear family of four. Or 2.3 children. We make this stuff in bulk, leave it to simmer for hours, package it up into the house’s entire Tupperware collection, and freeze it until needed. Our freezer isn’t large and I’d estimate it’s at least 50% frozen pasta sauce.
Which is useful, actually, because it means there are always spares when our impatient side gets the better of us. It is not uncommon for one of us to cave and attack the slowly defrosting sugo with a knife, jabbing chaotically at the frozen shards until – oops – the tip of the knife blade detaches and gets lost forever in the icy, beefy depths of the tupperware. Which means we throw away the now-lethal frozen sugo and sadly add another blunt knife to our growing number of underperforming kitchen gadgets (Also see: tin openers, garlic presses, and fish slices). (Actually, me and my sister made the fish slices as the culminating masterpieces of each taking two years’ worth of high school Tech classes and they are, to say the least, ‘rustic’ looking).
So out comes another sugo from the freezer and realizing the microwave has a ‘defrost’ button solves the entire problem. Which is good, because we’ve wasted enough time debating whether or not we should just risk eating pasta with a knife tip in it – no, no you should never do this – and now we’re hungry.
Sugo in the pot to reheat and bubble, alerting the house that dinner is imminent. Parmesan cheese grated. Salad ingredients cut, washed, and dressed. Place mats out (we’re fancy), wine bottle unscrewed (but not that fancy), and the pasta in to boil.
And it’s dinnertime.
Yield: Enough for at least three dinners of four people (luckily, it freezes well)
Time: 10 minutes prep and at least 2 hours slowly cooking
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 kg lean beef mince
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ chorizo sausage (about 110g), skin removed and cubed
- 1 large onion, outer skin removed but kept whole
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes
- Fresh parsley to garnish
- In a large pot heat the tablespoon of oil and add the kilogram of mince and cubed chorizo cook until mince is browned and chorizo has softened. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Add the garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant
- Pass tomatoes through a moulet into the pot and stir to combine.
If you don't have a moulet, or a passaverdura, you can just add the plum tomatoes in whole alongside their juices and smash them up against the side of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon. It's better for them not to be totally smooth, at any rate.
- Add the whole onion, 2 peeled carrots, 2 celery sticks, 2 bay leaves, and 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley.
- Once tomatoes begin to bubble, reduce heat to a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours – the longer the better, really.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to taste
- To serve, retrieve garlic cloves (easier said than done), bay leaves, carrots, onion, and celery sticks. These will have flavoured the dish but there is no need to dice the carrot and add it to the mix – that’s so un-Italian.