I don’t usually succumb to demands from my wife about what dishes to post on the blog. I like to keep to my theme. Blogs are basically about sharing information and new ideas to everyone though, so since we’ve made a breakthrough it deserves to be posted. For those people who don’t have gluten problems feel free to follow the ragu recipe below. I’ve added a few tips that I do to make a knockout ragu.
Onto the gluten free world then. This world is slowly evolving, but it still has a long way to go. Most gluten free substitutes are made with a combination of rice, potato, tapioca flours. They do not stick together even when you add water, so a magic gum called xanthan is added to make a glue. This can then be cooked. The result looks excellent but the texture is always wrong. Breads taste very grainy and are generally unpleasant. We have found some amazing breads though. Le Pain Quotidien are leading the way. I can’t praise this place highly enough. If you pass upon one, they are well worth a visit. The same story goes for the gluten free pastas. Made of similar compounds that are just nasty. So much so my wife who lived on pasta and sauce when I’m not home hasn’t eaten any for months.
A few weeks back we stumbled across some polenta couscous, it was better than the real thing. Thankfully while in London this week we stumbled across and amazing grocer called Andreas. One of the most amazing foodie shops I’ve ever come across. I might go back to London just to get some goodies in. High up on the shelve we saw some boring pasta that looked a little out of place. On closer inspection we found it was gluten free and made out of maize (polenta). Like the couscous it was possibly better than the real thing as it had better texture and flavour. This particular brand is GaroFalo, they can be found widely.
Now onto the ragu. Some simple rules to follow and you won’t go wrong.
1) Get your meat from a butcher rather than supermarket if possible. It’s just got a better texture.
2) Don’t add things that will dilute the flavours, ie chopped tomatoes, loads of veg. They’re fine in small amounts but the meat should be 50% of the entire ingredients.
3) Cook in the oven for two hours. Trust me. Thirty minutes on the hob will work but the best results are low and slow.
4) Add some bold flavours. I often add chorizo for it’s smokiness. Today I added an Nduja paste, essentially spreadable salami. It adds a wonderful layer of flavour to the sauce.
- 600g Minced Meat
- 2 Finely chopped Shallot
- 2 Cubed Carrots
- 1 Tbsp Nduja
- 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 150ml Port
- 500ml Beef Stock
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Star Anise
- 4 Sprigs Thyme
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 75g/person Pasta
- Brown all of the meat first and set aside. Soften the shallots and garlic. Turn the heat up and add the port. Reduce by half.
- Add the meat back plus the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and place in an Oven at 120°c FAN, lid on for two hours.
- Boil pasta as per packet instructions in salted water. Drain, then add the pasta to the sauce and turn through so the ragu gets into the holes.