Portion for 8-10 people

Base Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 medium chili, slightly spicy / with seeds removed (depends on how spicy you like)
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
5 cloves garlic finely chopped  
2 medium red onions thinly sliced
2 medium yellow onions roughly chopped
1 whole celery plant chopped into chunks (1 inch pieces)
3 medium sized carrots chopped into chunks (1 inch pieces)
3 cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (open them before you start cooking)
2 table spoon tomato puree
1/2 bottle dry red wine OR any kind of stock (half litre)
1.5KG minced meat (any kind of meat, can mix, recommend 50% pork 50% beef)
Salt and coarsely crushed black pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients (every little thing adds up to perfection)
2 slices pork bacon

2 slices sun dried tomatoes
1 packet brown button mushrooms halved (do NOT soak them in water or wash them, simply wipe the dirt off with some water with a clean towel or your fingers)
2 table spoons sweet paprika

Cooking Method:
1) Heat up a big steel pot with some olive oil (enough to cover the base of the pot).

2) When oil is hot put in the chili and bell peppers, stir fry with medium heat for 10 minutes, this is to flavour the oil.

3) Put in garlic, stir for 2-3 minutes (medium heat).

4) Put in bacon, stir fry until bacon turns light brown then put in sun dried tomatoes (medium heat).

5) Put in red onions, stir fry until lightly brown (high heat).

6) Put in mushrooms, stir fry for 5 minutes (high heat).

7) Put in minced meat, start stirring and break up the meat.  Put in 1 teaspoon of salt.  Fry until all the water has been evaporated from the meat and you start to hear sizzling sound again.  This may take a while depending on the size of the pot, the amount of water content in the meat and the amount of meat you put in, usually around 15 to 20 minutes.  Put in 1 table spoons black pepper.  Continue to stir fry until meat is dark brown (high heat all the way).  This is to make sure the meat can absorb other flavours and to concentrate it's own flavour.  Don't worry if brown bits start to stick at the bottom.

8) Pour in almost 1/2 bottle red wine (leave out half a cup for other purposes) OR 80% of the stock and start to deglaze the bottom of the pot (loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, these are great flavour) in high heat.  The meat will eventually absorb most of the liquid, don't wait until it dries out, see next step.

9) Pour in the canned tomatoes BEFORE the liquid in the pot dries up.  Rinse the cans with a bit of water and pour the water into the pot, don't waste any of it.  Still in high heat, stir and gently break up the tomatoes.

10) Put the tomato puree into the half a cup of red wine (or stock) you have reserved earlier.  After the puree has been dissolved, pour it into the pot.  Put in paprika.  Stir for 2-3 minutes in high heat.

11) Put in the yellow onions, celery and carrots, stir and push them to the bottom.  Put in another 1 teaspoon of salt and another 1 tablespoon of black pepper.

12) Cover the pot, still on high heat wait until its boiling then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 1.5 hours.

13) After 1.5 hours, stir the pot, do a taste test (add salt to taste) and make sure the carrots are soft. 

14)  Cover the lid, but this time leave it opened a bit (with a gap) so that steam can escape.  This is to make the ragu less watery and concentrate its flavour.  Turn up the heat to medium, when it starts boiling again, turn the heat down to low and simmer for half an hour.  If you want this to be a stew or soup, keep the lid covered.

1. Can be separated into containers or sealed plastic bags and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Re-heat with microwave oven, mix with any kind of plain food (such as rice, noodles or bread).  Or use it to stir fry some egg plants or any kind of vegetable.

2. If don't have wine or stock, can use water but not recommended because it will dilute the flavour.

3. Remember that the meat is not as important as the vegetables.  You can substitute the meat with more veges (more onions, carrots and celery) and can add potatoes if you want.  But the flavour will not be as intense as with meat.  If you don't add any meat (vegetarian only) then no need to add red wine, just add vegetable stock.


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