Lucius and I went out to supper on Monday night, so Horatio was left to his own cooking devices. He bought mince for a bolognaise, something he often makes with Alfred. They usually follow a Mary Berry recipe in the Aga Cookbook (you can tell, because of all the tomato and grease on the pages!). I don't know whether he couldn't find the book or whether he wanted a change, but this time he used a different recipe, something more authentically Italian, which specifies using milk. Lettice couldn't believe it: "bizarre" she said. I've never made a ragu with milk, although I've often thought I should - but it's so easy to keep on doing the same old thing. Now I think I will always use milk, because it was delicious - sweet (too sweet, said Horatio), thick, rich, smooth.
The book he used was Pasta, by Eric Treuille and Anna del Conte, but he simplified the recipe according to his taste, and what he didn't find in the fridge. Bacon? Nah. Bay leaf? Don't need one of them. Garlic? Of course. Nutmeg? He didn't bother to answer, just gave me one of those "are you mad?" looks that teenagers do so well. Full fat milk? Is there any other kind?
Obviously this is a recipe I'd have to adapt further - take out the butter, use lower fat milk, make sure the mince was extra lean. And I would use the flavourings - nutmeg is particularly good with red meats, although I'm never quite sure whether I can taste bayleaf unless it's in a fish pie.
Horatio's slightly simplified classic ragu bolognese
Fry a couple of onions in a mixture of butter and olive oil (60g & 2 tablespoons). When they're nearly cooked, add a finely chopped garlic clove. Tip in 500g mince, and brown it. Here Horatio, a cook after my own heart, added his own embellishment, some chopped chorizo (he had left out the 60g bacon specified in the original recipe). Then add 2 tbsp tomato puree, 150ml red wine, 150 ml stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer gently for two hours. While it cooks, add milk. You need to add 150 ml in total, two tablespoons at a time at 20-30 minute intervals. You'll know when it's ready - it's a lovely thick, rich sauce.
He ate this with pasta shells. I'd serve it with spaghetti. Delicious. I know because we ate the leftovers for lunch.
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