Next up in the “making unsexy meat sexy” series, the art of a ragout is ramped up by phoning your friendly butcher and telling him your plan. (Your plan, by the way, is to invite a bunch of people over and drink some good red wine while a kick-arse ragout ticks away in the oven). Ask for fatty beef and fatty pork. About 30% fat is ideal. If you have good butcher on the other end of the line, ask them specifically for ground pork shoulder and ground beef brisket or chuck. These cuts naturally have the ratios you are after. The recipe takes a bit of time in the beginning but then allows you to sit back and chill while the magic happens. Bonus: it can even be made a day in advance. In fact, it’ll taste even better that way.

What you’ll need:

Olive oil
250g x pork mince
250g x beef mince
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, both to taste
1 x onion, very finely chopped
1 x carrot, very finely chopped
1 x stalk celery, very finely chopped
Handful fresh thyme
1 x tablespoon fresh rosemary
3 x garlic cloves, minced
2 x tablespoons tomato paste
1 x cup red wine
1/2 x cup sherry vinegar
1 x tin high quality whole tomatoes 
1 x handful cherry tomatoes
2 x cups FFMM chicken stock (or water, if you don’t have)
Parmesan or pecorino, to serve

What to do: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 Degrees Celsius. meanwhile, heat a slick of oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.

  2. Add half the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, about 3 minutes. Pressing the meat down will help get the colour you are after. Using a slotted spoon, remove pork and place on a large, flat tray, lined with kitchen paper.

  3. Repeat with more oil and the remaining pork. Don’t be tempted to do this all in one batch guys. The pan will be crowded and the meat will stew. When you remove the pork, lay it out so that it is not on top of each other.

  4. Add more oil to the same pot, add beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook beef as you did with the pork, until nicely browned (3–4 minutes.) Remove with slotted spoon and lay on kitchen paper, as with the pork.

  5. Finally, add oil to the same pot and reduce heat to low. Add onion, carrot, celery, rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook vegetables slowly, stirring frequently. Cook until softened but not browned. (About 8-10 minutes.) Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  6. Add tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring, until deep red and caramelized. (About 3 minutes.)

  7. Return pork and beef to the pot, along with any of the cooking juices. Immediately add the vinegar, scraping off the bottom of the pot. Add wine and allow to simmer, until reduced by half. (About 2 minutes.) Add tomatoes with juices, along with the cherry tomatoes.

  8. Add stock (or water) and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a very gentle simmer and cover pot. Simmer for 2 - 3 minutes, then place pot in the oven.

  9. Cook for 3 hours, checking meat every now and then to break up mince, if necessary and to stir. Add more liquid if it needs it. (You want the mixture to be about two-thirds covered).

  10. When ready, remove pot and return to stovetop. Remove lid and cook on a low heat until meat and sauce have reduced to a silky, thick consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  11. To serve, spoon over your favourite cooked pasta or wet polenta. Garnish with grated pecorino or parmesan.