My Love Affair With Italian Food

My Love Affair With Italian Food

Posted by Holly F on 9th Sep 2017

Having recently returned from the summer in Italy where I embarked on a food journey with which everyday was indulged with Italian Cuisine; as much margherita pizza to last a lifetime, pasta that melts in your mouth, caprese salads and bruschetta. As I told my travelling companion, it was much harder to say goodbye to the daily buffalo mozzarella than to her.

Understandably returning to the dreary winter months of Melbourne was not appealing, it’s as if the bleak grey of the Melbourne landscape was reflected back into my mood. To fill the void in my life that was Italy’s impeccable gastronomy, I took to eating my boredom away.

My food journey 2.0 (2.0 because it occurred second, but by no means was it an upgrade) started with vegemite on toast, by the amount I was consuming some might think that I missed it, I went along with this idea, not confessing that I was surrounded by enough fresh croissants that my favourite breakfast never crossed my mind. Following the vegemite on toast phase I discovered the new m&m chocolate. Needless to say I became very familiar with the concept of ‘snaccident’ which as urban dictionary defines, ‘when food (a snack) is consumed in an accidental, often regrettable way. This can refer to accidentally eating food of questionable quality and/or quantity.’ During the act of devouring an entire block in a…very short amount of time there were no regrets, it wasn’t until after, when I realised what I had done that the shame came.

Clearly, my binge eating was getting quite out of hand and with no end in sight I took to the deep dark web for recipes of Italian goodness that I could create; to at least fool my stomach into thinking I was still in Italy.

My mum helped me out and gave me the recipe to a Bolognese sauce. I had hoped this recipe was a family secret that had been kept for generations however I soon found out my mum had found it online after an easy Google search for best Bolognese recipes.

For an amateur cook like myself this was quite easy to make. The ingredients weren’t too far fetched which is a deal breaker for me, there is nothing more annoying then searching in the supermarket for an hour for a strange ingredient, only to have it sit in the cupboard for next two years. And might I say, I may only remember the idea of the masterpieces (aka Bolognese sauce) in Italy, however in my humble opinion, this Ragù alla Bolognese tastes particularly delicious and maybe if I close my eyes I can pretend I’m back in Italy.

Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 60g unsmoked pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, very finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g lean chuck or braising beef, coarsely minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 150ml red wine, such as Sangiovese or Barbera
  • 2 pinches grated nutmeg
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 150ml whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Tagliatelle, to serve
  • Method

    1.Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then remove it. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the onion and, when it begins to soften, stir in the carrot, celery and bay. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.

    2.Add the beef, turn the heat up to high and cook until medium-brown and nearly crisp, crumbling it in the pot using a fork. You need a high heat so that the meat browns rather than stews, but be careful not to let it become too brown and hard.

    3.Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine, nutmeg and stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to very low, so that the mixture reduces very slowly.

    4.Set the lid askew over the pan and cook for about 2 hours, adding a couple of tablespoons of milk from time to time. By the end all the milk should have been added and absorbed, and the ragù should be rich with the texture of thick soup.

    5.Taste and adjust the seasoning. The ragù is now ready. Boil the tagliatelle and serve with the ragù.