Thursday, 10 January 2008

Slow-cooked Roast Garlic Ragu

It's January - and usually a month where I try to avoid pasta... but when I found Ruth's Presto Pasta night over at Once Upon a Feast... my will-power started to crumple. Or crumble... all these carbs have affected my brain!

It all started with the
home-made roast garlic fresh pasta but I needed more... I needed a sauce! After roasting off almost a dozen heads of garlic I set my mind to what else I could use them for...

I eventually came up with this gorgeous slow cooked ragu, with a pork and beef base, finished with 3 bulbs of garlic. It sounds like a lot, but the garlic was slow roasted until there was no sharpness left - just sweet, rich garlicky lushness!

  • 3 carrot
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 2 onions
  • 3 roasted heads of garlic
  • Some olive oil for frying/drizzling
  • 500g minced (ground) beef steak
  • 500g minced (ground) pork
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 6 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked!)
  • 500g carton passata
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp worcester sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 bottle decent red wine
I started off by preparing the 'holy trinity' of Italian cooking - onions, carrots and celery. I already had my food processor out for making my pasta - so decided to save time and effort and use it for the veg too. I finely chopped one onion and used the grater attachment for the carrots and celery. Use an ovenproof dish to sweat this mixture off for about 20 minutes, or until soft. I used my Le Creuset casserole dish to do this - after lusting after one for years, I finally bought one last year and get it out whenever I can!

As I was going for sweet, rich favours I decided to caramelise the other onion. I cut the onion in half, then thinly sliced each half. After heating some olive oil over a medioum heat I chucked on the onions and let slowly cook for abotut half an hour until they were golden and caramelised. The kitchen was already starting to smell lovely!

When the onions and veg are cooked, remove to a bowl. If you have lots of lovely burnt bits on the bottom of the onions pan, then use a bit of the wine to de-glaze, and add that to the bowl too.

In the same ovenproof pan, brown off the pork mince - make sure the pan isn't overcrowded so it fries rather than boils! As it's January and I'm trying to be healthy, I strained off the pork and discard the fat, setting the meat to one side. While this was straining I fried off the beef in the same ovenproof pan. Once it was brown I added the strained pork, beef stock cube, Tabasco, fish sauce and paprika and let it fry for a couple of minutes.

Preparation almost done! Still a lot of cook time to go though...

I added the softened veg and onions, the passata, tinned tomatoes, worcester sauce, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and finally the red wine, then brought the whole lot to the boil. I was a bit surprised at how pink it looked - but I guess I'm used to making bolognese ragu with all beef!

I think I let my ragu cook in the oven for about 5 hours - but I think it would probably be ok after 3/4 hours. I stirred it every 30 minutes or so - it was quite easy to see when it all started to come together - initially it looked quite pink and 'bitty', but once it was ready the colour deepened to a dark colour and the texture was much softer.. I didn't need to, but make sure you add some water if it starts looking like drying out.

Right - almost ready - and the kitchen should smell amazing!

I removed the garlic mush from the roasted heads, and mashed it into a rough paste, then stirred it into the ragu. You could probably serve it right then - but I had to finish making my pasta, so it went back into the oven for another 15 minutes!
I served this with my roasted garlic pasta... I know that was probably overkill - and the sauce was definitely enough to stand alone - but it really did taste amazing! I found that I didn't need too much sauce with the pasta - nowhere near the quantity I was put out when making bolognaise. It was really rich, and coated the pasta well.

And it keeps the vampires away!

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Ruth Daniels said...

I can never get enough garlic and this combo of sauce AND pasta...Perfection!!!!

Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

A Scientist in the Kitchen said...

I agree with Ruth, one can never get enough of garlic. I like to put lots of garlic to my pastas, too.

Will said...


That's a great recipe! I messed about with it this weekend and got great results. Thanks a million!