If I am blessed with some down time at the weekend I like nothing more than tuning in to the inexhaustible 'Desert Island Discs' podcast archive and faffing around in the kitchen. I like to batch cook semi-industrial quantities of Bolognese sauce (ragù if we are purist) much of which I freeze for subsequent deployment when more pressed.


Claudia Roden - Ragu


My initial instructions came from Claudia Roden's excellent 'The Food of Italy' but I've cooked this so often now I no longer need to refer to the seminal text. It is a process that requires lots of hand chopping of vegetables which I find quite therapeutic if left to my own devices. I put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in to my largest cast iron casserole pot and add several big handfuls of finely chopped field mushrooms. This is followed by finely chopped celery, coarsely-grated and chopped carrot and finely-diced white onions. For a meaty dish it contains a lot of vegetables.




I then heat that lot through, stirring regularly, until everything has softened and the onions are translucent. I then add chopped un-smoked pancetta and at least a kilo of lean, organic beef mince. You continue stirring until all the meat has coloured before adding between 75cl and a litre of decent passata (or chopped tomatoes) and plenty of seasoning. Diverging from the official doctrine I often add red wine at this juncture but vegetable stock or even water suffice. The important thing is to have enough liquid to facilitate a long, slow cooking process. I normally aim for a minimum of 3 hours with the lid on and sauce gently simmering. You can add more liquid at any time if required.

Chez Yapp we normally serve that with spaghetti, grated parmesan, black pepper and a green salad. If I'm feeling really extravagant I might even knock-up a lasagne. One should probably serve that with an Italian wine but I am a vinous Francophile and would be perfectly happy with this month's Vin de Corse Sartène Rouge: Domaine Saparale 2015. This is one of few dishes that seems to be equally well-received heated up straight from the freezer on a busy school night – slow cooked fast food if you will...


February Wines of the Month: £79 per case (of six bottles) delivered, saving £15.40 on list prices.