Monday, October 20, 2014

The best ragu. Ever.

It's times like these that I remember why I started ye olde blog.

It was to share my favourite recipes with my friends and family.

Well, I'm quietly confident that this is perhaps the best recipe I've ever shared. 

You know how when you buy a new brand of car, that's all you ever see on the streets from then on? Or when you hear a new song you like (or hate) and then it's playing on the radio every time you turn on your car? Well, that happened to me with a recipe last week.

A girl from work and I were talking cooking and she told me about this sausage ragu that she loves. The only sausage ragu I know is the terrible one we get served up at school with the sausages still in their skin, disguised in some weird coloured curry sauce. I smiled politely but deleted her email as soon as she sent the link through to the recipe.

Then later that week, my friend Shuggie told me about this amazing ragu she makes with pork and fennel sausages. Now, Shuggie would never lie to me when it comes to food, so this time I sat up and took notice. Sure enough, it was the same Karen Martini recipe and it's such a winner in her family, that her Dad now uses it as their lasagne base.

Then I was talking to someone else back home in Adelaide and I mentioned this random ragu recipe and they seconded (or is that thirded) the fact that it's a truly life-changing dish. Everywhere I looked, Karen Martini and her Roman Pork Sausage Ragu was waving hello!

So I just had to try it myself. And everything they said was true - I cooked it for the first 'family dinner' with my new housemate and it was so good we barely spoke - it was all 'mmmm, aaahhhh, yeeeessssss' kind of noises.

Do yourself a favour and get on board. You will never make a normal spaghetti bolognaise ever again. And you will have a newfound respect for the humble sausage!

Hot tip: Watch the video on Karen's website here. I was a bit confused about the whole 'crumble the meat' thing but she makes it look so easy.

And a confession - I didn't buy my sausages from the butcher like she recommends. I bought Coles 'pork, apple and cider' sausages then realised I needed more so topped up with Woolies' 'Italian beef, pork, red wine and fennel sausages'. They worked a TREAT. Oh, and I couldn't find thick-cut pancetta so I used a wedge of smoked pork. Same same but different?! Don't be afraid to experiment.

750 grams pork and fennel sausages 
150 grams thick-cut pancetta, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400 ml red wine
600 ml chicken stock
400 grams tinned crushed tomatoes
3 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
salt and pepper
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pasta per person, such as pappardelle

Remove the skins from the sausages and crumble the meat. Discard the skins. Heat a heavy-based pot on medium heat, then add the sausage meat and pancetta. Fry until the sausage meat is golden brown, stirring every few minutes. Don’t worry if you get some sticky, crunchy bits – it’s all flavour.
Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, dried chilli and fennel seeds. Stir in well. The vegetables will sweat a little and ease all the crusty, caramelised pieces from the bottom of the pot.
Continue to cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the tomato paste and red wine and bring to a simmer. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, rosemary and oregano and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat, until you have a thick, intense sauce consistency.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
When cooked, season the ragu carefully (the sausages will already be salted), then add the olive oil and the cooked pasta. Bring the pot to the table.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hunting for Hunters

Friends, travellers, wine lovers, romantics.

I'm off to the Hunter Valley with the two loveliest of gals and I'm in need of some accommodation recommendations. I'm flying blind here, people!

It's for two nights (Friday and Saturday) in the second week of November. 

Any hot tips? Restaurant musts, winery loves?

But most importantly, where should we stay!?

Hit me up!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The cat that got the cream

Then this happened, people!

I am in hysterics, can't stop laughing.

I may not not a THING about finance or economics, but I do know about food. Or I pretend I do.

After the excitement of yesterday's post, the Fin Review got in touch and used some quotes from me for a story about The Fat Duck ballot. I was like a kid at Christmas, talk about media hussy!

Lucille Keen has a way with words, she's a cracker! And she's partial to a strand of pearls, a girl after my own heart!

I'd better just make sure I get picked in the ballot now, that would be totes awkies if I don't make it through! Imagine the follow up story then (although that's more a Today Tonight expose!).

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am I daft?

So I did it, and I'm so nervous!

I entered The Fat Duck ballot and am sick with fear that I'll be drawn as a lucky winner.

I'm also like a kid before Christmas - can you imagine if I get picked?! It will be the most exciting day of my life (so far, of course).

The $525 (without beverages) pricetag scares the life out of me, but as my friend Em pointed out, it's 12-15 courses which breaks it down to about $35 per dish. Okay, it's still expensive, but it's also a lot of food and 4.5 hours of pure entertainment.

This article from Good Food justified it for me - I know where my tax return will be going this year!

Has anyone actually dined at The Fat Duck before? I'd love to know if you think it's worth it!

Gulp. It's A LOT of money.