The other day the philosophe asked if I had ever cooked spaghetti for him. A preposterous question, of course, but we must all be forgiven temporary memory lapses, and with a little prodding he did soon remember a bolognese in the not-so-distant past. Of course I haven’t stopped thinking about it since, particularly as these winter-to-summer (“spring”, they say!) days are taking longer than I like to get to the hot side of things: in other words, it’s still weather for bolognese.
But my tried and tested Elizabeth David favourite (chicken livers are the secret) has now been overtaken by an older urge which was first sparked several years ago by watching Jamie Oliver do his version of what people did before the days of meat mincers: taking a chunk of stewing beef and cooking it slowly until it can be forked apart and more or less melt into the sauce (ragu).
I’m still a novice at cuts of beef (I couldn’t for the life of me get them right at cooking school, and it doesn’t help that they have different names for different cuts, not to mention different cuts altogether, in different parts of the world), but what I have played with quite recently is beef short ribs, which produced the most astoundingly delicious and meltingly tender meat.
So, in anticipation of a nice cold day tomorrow or even the next, the ribs are now in the oven for their first stage of cooking. I’m loosely following the two-day cooking process described on Simply Recipes (a winner last time), but with some more obvious bolognese tones (add tomato to the wine). And while a web search does tell me that beef short rib ragu is not so unusual, I will choose to call mine bolognese, and let it be like no bolognese the philosophe has tasted.
Some bastardisation is, after all, legitimate in kitchen creativity: while beef rib or bolognese ragu purists may turn up their noses, I don’t think I’m violating any essential principles. Not like whoever dreamed up a chocolate covered potato chip. (what the ???)