Kicking of this week with a totally amazing meat ragu recipe which I am using in a lasagne, but it can also be paired with any pasta you like. This sauce takes about 4 hours to cook down and it’s just unbelievable the intensity of the flavours you get after that time. It’s super simple it make just takes a little time but I guarantee you will never be happy with a “quick” bolognaise sauce again after you had this one, so make lots and stash in the freezer!
Saturday: Lasagne – with the best meat ragu you will EVER taste!
Sunday: Rack of lamb w/ olive and herb crust
Monday: Crispy skinned mackerel w/ Asian dressing
Tuesday: Cheddar, leek and mushroom tortilla
Wednesday: River Cottage Shepherd’s pie
Thursday: Indian style quinoa
Friday: Salmon and spinach rosti bake
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g pancetta cubes, unsmoked
500g pork mince
500g veal mince (can also use beef but not the lean variety or venison)
100g chicken livers, chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
3 large cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
350mls white wine
250mls beef stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
50g plain flour
50g butter, melted
a good grating of fresh nutmeg
Make the ragu first, as it takes a long time to cook. Start by melting the butter and oil in a saute pan or large frying pan. Once the butter is fully melted add your chopped celery, onion, carrots, garlic and pancetta and over a medium heat saute for about 15 mins until the veg are all lovely and soft.
Turn the heat up a little and add the meat in stages, so that you evaporate all the water that comes out of the meat first before you add the next batch. Add the chilli flakes and bay leaves at this stage. One all the meat is added turn back to medium and fry until the meat is well browned, it’s fine if you have some crunchy bits as this all adds to the flavour. keep stirring from time to time, this will probably take about 15-20 mins. Once you have all the meat well brown, add the white wine to deglaze the pan. If you are using a frying pan you need to transfer everything to a sauce pan now (is using a saute pan it can stay in there). Now add the stock, milk, tomatoes and season well, then on a very low heat simmer away for around 3-4 hours. You need to check it every now and then and give it a stir and taste it to make sure the seasoning is OK. The consistency at the end of the cooking period should be like porridge, with some oil left on the top but it shouldn’t be “wet”. You can use this ragu with any pasta you like by making it a bit wetter by adding some water. But for lasagne it needs to be thick.
Bechamel sauce – melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes. Then add the milk whisking continuously until you have no lumps. Add your nutmeg and a little salt and simmer until you have a nice thick sauce. Set aside until needed.
Preheat your oven to 180C/gas 4
Layer up your lasagne starting with some Bechamel sauce on the bottom then your first layer of pasta, then meat ragu and more white sauce on top of that. Keep going till you have 3 layers of pasta. On the top of the final layer of pasta, put Bechamel sauce and a good amount of fresh grated cheese. I like using a mix of parmesan and cheddar but it’s up to you, you can also dot with cubes of mozzarella, or can also leave out the cheese if you don’t like cheese.
Bake in the hot oven for 30-45 minutes until your pasta is soft and the top is bubbling and golden brown.
Rack of lamb w/ olive and herb crust
2 French-trimmed racks of lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
100ml red wine
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 tsp red currant jelly
For the olive herb crust:
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Leaves of 3 fresh thyme sprigs
Leaves of 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped
50g fine white breadcrumbs
4 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
4 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
For the grilled vegetables
2 courgettes, cut into medium-thick slices
1 aubergine, cut into medium-thick slices
1 red pepper, deseeded
1 yellow pepper, deseeded
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 fresh rosemary sprig
3 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
Prepare the lamb by cutting away the thick layer of fat on the outside of each rack of lamb, taking with it the thin sinewy layer of meat underneath – this will leave you with a thick meaty fillet and a fatty layer that lies against the bones. Discard the fat but keep the meaty sinew for the sauce. Score the fat layer on each rack to help it crisp. Season well all over. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When foaming, add the lamb and sear for 2 minutes each side, until browned all over. Remove and set aside. Once cool, discard the fat in the pan and clean the pan with kitchen paper.
Make the herb crust by whizzing the herbs in a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, olives and anchovies and whizz to a fine, damp mixture. Season with pepper. Brush the fillet on each lamb rack with the mustard, then coat with the breadcrumb mix, pressing it on firmly. Put in a large roasting tin and set aside.
For the vegetables, lightly score the flesh on 1 side of each courgette and aubergine slice. Peel the peppers with a potato peeler and cut into wide strips. Reserve any trimmings. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil into a griddle pan over a medium-high heat. When really hot, add some of the vegetables, herbs and garlic in 1 layer, and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning, until charred on both sides and just tender. Place in an ovenproof dish and cover with cling film, so they continue to cook in the steam. Repeat with the remaining oil and vegetables, until they are all in the dish. Set aside, covered. Discard the garlic and herbs before serving.
Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas 9, or as high as it will go. Make a quick sauce. Heat the cleaned frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the meaty sinew and vegetable trimmings. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned. Add the wine and rosemary and simmer until reduced by half. Add 300ml boiling water and simmer rapidly for 5-6 minutes, removing any scum. Stir in the red currant jelly, bubble for a few minutes and season. Strain into a jug. It should be fairly thin but well-flavoured.
Meanwhile, cook the lamb – breadcrumbs side up – in the oven for 10-14 minutes, for medium rare. Rest, covered loosely with foil, for 5 minutes. Cut into cutlets.
Divide the vegetables between plates. Rest the lamb on top and drizzle with the sauce to serve.
Crispy skinned mackerel w/ Asian dressing
1 mug of basmati rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 170g mackerel, skin on, butterflied and pin-boned
1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced
Small handful fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped
Couple of sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
For the sauce
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1cm piece fresh ginger
1 spring onion, trimmed
1 fresh red chilli
small handful coriander
4 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp runny honey
Extra virgin olive oil
Put a griddle pan on a high heat to get really hot. Add the rice to a pan with 1.75 mugs of boiling water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil on a high heat then turn the heat down to low, cover and leave for 8-9 minutes.
Once the griddle is very hot, add the mackerel skin-side down (you may need to do this in batches). Use a fish slice to press the fish onto the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and finely grate over the zest of a lemon. Reduce to a medium-high heat and cook for about 8 minutes in total.
Meanwhile, make your sauce. Use a fine grater to carefully grate the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli into a small bowl. Grate in the lime zest and mix well. Tear in the coriander leaves, add the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey and squeeze in the juice of the limes. Finish with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil then have a taste – there should be a nice balance between sweet, sour, heat and fragrance – if not add a little more of what is missing.
Check the mackerel, they should be dark on the skin side so carefully flip them over to finish cooking for a final few seconds. Check your rice; all of the water should have been absorbed and there should be little air holes formed in the rice. Divide the rice between your plates, top each portion with a piece of mackerel then drizzle over some of the sauce. Scatter over the spring onion, mint, coriander and chilli.
Cheddar, leek and mushroom tortilla
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium potatoes, cut into small dice
1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
6 large eggs
Handful of fresh chives
150g mature Cheddar, diced
Heat the oil in a medium, deep, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the potato and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until turning golden. Add the leek and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring, until softened and wilted.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons cold water in a bowl. Snip in the chives, stir in the cheese and season. Pour into the pan, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, tilting the pan now and then so uncooked egg runs to the edges and cooks. The tortilla should be just set throughout and golden underneath. To finish pop the tortilla still in its pan under the grill for a few minutes to brown the top.
Divide the tortilla into 4 and serve hot with a green salad. *Tip: If you want to make this meatisaurus, use chopped up sliced ham or cooked bacon.
River Cottage Shepherd’s pie
1kg leftover roast lamb, coarsely chopped or you can use cubed lamb, roasted, cooled and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Any juices or gravy left over, or concentrated lamb stock
1 small glass of red wine
1-2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Up to 1kg creamy mashed potato (made with 1kg large, floury potatoes, 150ml whole millk and 50g butter)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or wide saucepan big enough to accommodate all of the ingredients. Brown the meat in the pan, then remove onto a plate.
Sweat the onions in the same pan until just beginning to turn lightly golden. Return the meat to the pan, along with any gravy, juices or stock, the wine and a tablespoon each of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for a few minutes, adding a little water if the mixture looks dry. Taste for seasoning and add a little more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt or pepper, as you see fit. Simmer gently for another 20-30 minutes, until the meat is tender and the flavours well blended. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Again, add a little more water, or wine, to loosen the mixture if you think it needs it.
Put the meat in a pie dish or casserole dish and pile the mash on top, covering the meat completely. Use a fork to rough up the surface of the mash. Bake for around 40 minutes until the mash is nicely browned on top and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Serve at once with minted peas.
Indian style quinoa
1 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 decent sized bunch fresh coriander, chopped
110g frozen peas
Couple of handfuls cashews
Put the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and rinse it well, then put it to one side.
Put the onion in a pan with the oil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened. Then add the ginger and spices for another minute or so. Stir around a bit and add the quinoa. Give it a couple of minutes to get thoroughly mixed, then add the water and half of the fresh coriander. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer until all the water’s been absorbed.
Add the peas now (and more water if necessary) and leave until the peas are cooked. It only takes a couple of minutes. Just before serving add the rest of the coriander and the cashews.
Salmon and spinach rosti bake
2 medium waxy potatoes, such as Desiree, unpeeled
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
225g bag baby leaf spinach
600g salmon, tilapia or trout fillets, skinned, boned and halved lengthways
284ml double cream
1 small lemon, zest finely grated
Handful of chopped fresh dill
Handful of chopped parsley
Par-boil the potatoes for 8 minutes, then drain and set aside to cool. Dry the pan, return to a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted down. Tip into a deep, 1.3-litre baking dish and spread the mixture across the base.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7. Place the salmon strips neatly in 1 layer across the spinach mixture. In a bowl, mix the cream, lemon zest and dill or parsley and season well. Pour all over the salmon, spinach and onion base.
Remove the peel from the potatoes with your fingers, and coarsely grate the potatoes directly onto the creamy salmon in a craggy layer. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season to taste and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s bubbling and the potato is deep golden and crispy. Serve with steamed mangetout or green beans.
(Credits: Delicious Magazine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Angela Hartnett, Jamie Oliver, The Gluttonous Vegan, JJMoola’s Kitchen