Tom Parker-Bowles Neapolitan Ragù
If you think you have the ultimate bolognese recipe, think again. Try this fantastic version from Tom Parker-Bowles book Let's Eat Meat. I love Tom's style of writing - do read the great introduction:
"Ah, Naples. Considered by many as filthy, dirty and dangerous, a southern Italian wretch who has seen better days. But for me it’s Italy’s greatest city, endlessly invaded and occupied, but endlessly sexy, thrilling and beautiful. It’s also home to the best cooking in the country, as well as two of my favourite restaurants in the world (Da Dora for fish and DaMichele for pizza). This is still a poor area of the country, and meat doesn’t play a huge role in its traditional cookery. But this slow-cooked ragù is a masterpiece, the pride of every Sunday lunch, simmered and devoured with love and lust.
‘You must stay with it, guide it, caress it for hours,’ writes Jeanne Carola Francesconi in La Cucina Napoletana, ‘so that the aromas of its various components can be released and mingle with each other.’ This isn’t mere tomato sauce, rather Neapolitan lifeblood. I’ve adapted this recipe from Arthur Schwartz’s magnificent Naples at Table. It tastes even better after reading Naples ’44, Norman Lewis’s masterpiece on this most magical and seductive of cities."
1–2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g/9oz rindless pork belly, cut into large chunks
250g/9oz stewing veal
250g/9oz beef shin, cut into chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
½ bottle (37.5cl) of punchy red wine
3 x 400g/14oz cans of chopped tomatoes
big pinch of sea salt
big pinch of dried chilli flakes
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy pot over a medium–high heat and brown all the meat, in separate batches, until well browned – around 5 minutes for each batch. Start with the pork belly as it will release some fat, but add more oil if the meat starts to stick.
After removing the final batch of meat, tip the onions into the pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until soft, stirring and scraping up the crisped bits of meat stuck on the bottom of the pan.
Return all the meat to the pan, add the wine and reduce over a high heat.
Add the tomatoes, salt and chilli and simmer very gently for 3–4 hours. Stir every 15 minutes or so, skimming off any excess fat. You may need to add a little water, 100ml/3½fl oz at a time, if the sauce begins to stick in the last couple of hours.
The Neapolitans would remove the meat and serve the sauce with pasta to start, then serve the meat separately for a next course. But I like it all together. Scatter on the parsley and serve with a pile of cooked fusilli or spaghetti.
Extracted from Let's eat Meat: Recipes For Prime Cuts, Cheap Bits And Glorious Scraps Of Meat by Tom Parker Bowles, published in hardback by Pavilion, priced £25. Photograph © Jenny Zarins.
What to drink: I think you need a hearty Italian red with this dish. A Taurasi might well be the local choice but other Aglianicos would work. You could also try a Sicilian red such as Nero d'Avola or even a Barbera even though it comes from the other end of the country. FB
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