I have to be very frank with this recipe – it’s heavily based on a recipe originally found in Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen‘, though as with all recipes on this site I’ve made a few tweaks along the way to make it a bit friendlier to my waistline and the taste preferences in our household.
Of course as it’s not a truly original idea I just wanted to be sure that I give credit for the inspiration rather than presenting the idea as being all my own 🙂
Note: This recipe will make enough to serve 4 people unlike most others on this site. If you’re just cooking for two you benefit from the fact that the risotto and ragu are made separately, as you could save half of the sauce for another time and then use half the rice to make the risotto itself.
Ingredients - Beef Ragu
- 80 g Smoked Bacon Lardons
- 1 medium Onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 small Carrot, scrubbed and grated
- 1 stick Celery, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 400 g tinned Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Beef Stock Cube (Oxo cube, preferably)
- 500 g Lean Beef Mince
Ingredients - Risotto
- 300 g Risotto Rice
- 500 ml Beef Stock
- 50 g Parmesan Cheese, grated
- Handful Fresh Parsely, chopped
Method - Beef Ragu
Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the bacon lardons. Fry for a few minutes until starting to crisp.
Add in the carrot, onion and celery and then fry for 10 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add in the crushed garlic and stir to make sure everything is coasted, before cooking for a further few minutes. Remove the vegetables and bacon from the pan and put to one side. Note: Nigella's original recipe would have you putting the bacon and vegetables in a food processor to create a smoother sauce before cooking it out, but it's up to you. I like a bit of texture, which might horrify many, but chacun à son goût!
Turn up the heat then add the minced beef, frying until browned all over and starting to cook through. Crumble the beef stock cube over the meat as it's cooking to help the flavour develop.
Add the bacon and vegetable mixture back to the pan, along with the tomato purée then stir to coat everything, before adding in the tinned tomatoes.
Cook for 30 minutes to reduce the sauce and really develop the flavour. Season to taste. Once it's cooked through and you're happy with the flavours take it off the heat and put to one side. You can make the sauce ahead a day or two (it's what I did) or carry on with the next step straight away.
Method - Risotto
Depending on whether you come straight from the first stage or have made the sauce in advance, the first thing to do is put it in a decent sized pan and bring it up to a simmer. Once you're ready add in the rice and stir to to make sure all the grains are coated, before adding in your first ladle full of hot stock.
From here the standard risotto rules apply - stir regularly, adding stock when the previous ladle-full has been absorbed by the rice. You need to keep this routine going for about 18 minutes until the rice is al dente and there's no excess stock in the pan.
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and a good amount of parmesan cheese.