Italian food is pure comfort teetering on the cusp of ultra-violence: a clash of sublime elegance and pulsating violence.
This is my ultimate comfort food. This dish I taught to all my friends growing up and it’s a recipe they still use today. It’s extremely rich but so rewarding. It’s worth the heart attack, capish?
Meat Sauce and spaghetti
Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients 1 tablespoon lard or beef drippings 50g pancetta, diced 2 onions, chopped 2 carrots, finely diced Half-a-stick celery, finely diced 3 tablespoons garlic, sliced with a razor blade so it liquefies in the pan 1 tablespoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 bay leaves Pinch of saffron 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn 2 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon marjoram 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 250g minced beef 250g minced pork 250g minced veal 2 sweet Italian sausages (hot) (removed from its casing) 6 osso bucco (marrow scraped out) 4 tablespoons tomato paste 1 glass red wine (Shiraz) 2 cans plum tomatoes with juice 250mL beef stock 100mL heavy cream 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 packet of spaghetti 100g freshly grated Parmesan 100g freshly grated Pecorino Method
- In a large pot, heat the lard over medium-to-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring until browned and the fat is rendered for four to five minutes.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring until soft for four to five minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, saffron, basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the mince in batches and the sausage. Cook, stirring until no longer pink, for about five minutes or until slightly caramelised, and then add the marrow.
- Add two tablespoons of the tomato paste and cook, stirring for three to five minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, until half of the liquid is reduced (about two minutes).
- Add the plum tomatoes with their juices, the remaining tomato paste and beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until thickened, about three hours. If the sauce is looking a little dry, top up with more stock otherwise your guests might make you sleep with the fishes if the sauce catches.
- Add cream, butter and parsley, and stir well; simmer for two minutes. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve. Alternatively, hide in the kitchen, grab fresh bread and start working your way through the fat that settles on the top of the sauce. It’s so delicious.
- Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large soup pot. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente (eight to 10 minutes). Drain in a colander. I don’t need to explain what happens next: serve the food, eat.
Andrew Cameron’s cocktails of choice: Cardinale A classic Italian dish demands a classic Italian cocktail to pair. In this instance, the Cardinale cocktail provides the best foundation, being equal measures of Campari, Gin and Dry Vermouth (think of it is a Negroni with Dry Vermouth replacing the sweet). With this dish, however, we need to both complement and contrast the richness of the dish. Instead of adding Vermouth, I recommend utilising a buttery white wine – if you can find an Italian variety that fits the profile, definitely use it as it tells a better story. I’ve also added about 5mL of red wine vinegar to add a small amount of acidity to sit alongside the Campari in the drink and aid in refreshing the palate. Stir the drink down and strain over ice in a short glass. Garnish with an orange twist and some burnt thyme. Buon appetito! africola.com.au @GastroPunkOz