An interesting variant on the standard bolognese ragù is this one made with very slow cooked shin of beef. I had thought long and hard about including a wild boar recipe in the book but decided against because it is not readily available. This isn’t wild boar but the long cooking with red wine gives a powerful depth of flavour reminiscent of sauces made with game meat. If you have a slow cooker that would be ideal for this. Cooked on top of the slow there is a danger of the bottom catching and burning. Depending on the size of the chunks of meat, it will need a good six to eight hours of slow cooking. By then, the vegetables, bacon and wine will have combined to make a smooth sauce and the meat will be easily flaked. If you want to be true to the wild boar tradition, you serve it with pappardelle – broad noodles – but if the key word for you is ragù then it must be tagliatelle.
A word about the pasta: I decided to try the experiment of making it entirely by machine and the result was the best ever. I mixed the dough in a Kenwood, and then used the kneading hook on it for ten minutes. As I watched, I saw the consistency changing and when I removed the pasta dough from the mixer bowl it was dry and elastic. After resting it in the fridge for half an hour, I used a pasta machine to roll it out to the second thinnest setting, making sure that I put it through the two broadest settings four or five times. By then it was sublimely silky and easy to work. And I used the Bolognese recipe: 1 egg per 100grams of flour and nothing else.
To follow, we had a dessert made from chestnut puree accompanied by a deep, dark chocolate ice cream that wouldn’t have been out of place in La Sorbetteria or Gianni in Bologna. More of that later.
This recipe makes enough for six. Or you could double the quantities and make an extra portion for freezing.
for the pasta
6 large eggs
600g OO pasta flour
2 teaspoons salt
for the ragù
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g bacon or pancetta
2 sticks celery
3 cloves garlic
500g shin of beef
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
200ml red wine
500ml beef stock or beef stock cube dissolved in hot water
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of flat leaved parsley
1. Mix the pasta ingredients in a mixer or food processor then knead for 10 minutes. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge.
2. Fry the bacon in the olive oil in a large casserole. Remove and set aside.
3. Finely chop the vegetables and fry slowly until soft and beginning to brown. Remove and set aside.
4. Cut the beef into chunks about 3 or 4 cms in size, having removed surplus fat and gristle. Fry rapidly until browned. Add back the bacon and vegetables, then the wine, driving off the alcohol. Then add the bay leaves, thyme and tomatoes.
5. Bring to barely a simmer, and cook slowly for at least six hours until the meat is very tender.
6. Roll out the pasta, and slice it into tagliatelle.
7. Remove the meat carefully with a slotted spoon. Using two forks, shred it finely, taking care to remove pieces of fat and gristle. Replace the meat, check for seasoning, reheat, adding the parsley finely chopped.
8. Put on the pasta to cook in a large pan of boiling, salted water.
9. Drain the pasta when it is cooked and combine with the ragù. Serve with grated parmesan.