MUSTARDS and peter watson
BAKERS BAKING AND BREAD
I am obsessed, so many things, so much to do and the days fly by. I am reminded again that one of my more developed obsessions is with bread and baking in general. I blame Iris Edna for this, she made me love bread far too much.
The king of the bakers in Port Fairy was of course, Little Tommy Digby of whom I have written often and who still looms large in my thoughts and food dreams, his contribution to my life of food and eating was boundless influence and even today I can still taste the pastry, the Neapolitan slice and the jam roll and the dozens of other cakes and breads that he made daily for Caddies in the back room with the great wood and gas brick ovens that gave such a special taste.
Alas the king is no more, retired to his fathers stone house at the East Beach and playing the organ at the church, his magic is passed on to others but they do not, as far as I know, have the same touch for the bake house as he did. Well at least not as far as I am concerned.
A magazine crossed my desk today, compliments of the peak body of the bakers of Australia. It made me very nervous and yet also reflective. Have I got the right to demand wood fired ovens made from brick, have I got the right to want breads that are made from superb flours with real yeasts and sour dough starters, have I got the right to demand from my local baker, cakes of great quality and taste, jams that are real, sugars that are free from chemicals. In fact the whole thing free from chemicals. I think I do, but alas I may well be alone in this, since most bakers these days seem not to be able to make breads from scratch, cakes from beginning to end. At least that’s the way the magazine sees it.
Lets look at this one thing at a time. Ovens seems like a place to start. Let me start with a question... why is it that Italian Pizza makers and Jamie Oliver all seem to think that a wood fired oven is essential to life and limb and, while I am at it, a trip by anyone to Costante Imports in Bell Street Preston, will garner you a small, but impressive (steel it has to be admitted) outdoor oven, along with some of the great Italian cooking delights, you will leave there with a much deflated wallet. The food cooked in these things does taste different, it has a more earthy, rich and round taste. Why is it that bakers who have been lucky enough to have found premises with wood fired ovens installed, cannot bake enough bread to keep up with the demand. But please, tell me someone, and I am prepared to be wrong here; are the stainless steel and glass, free standing, plug in, on wheels ovens of todays bake house any better/worse/same as wood fired or for that matter gas ovens?
Is this whole issue a little like the unwashed baking dish of my mothers past, made the best gravy and roast meats to perfection, roast potatoes that you would travel to eat. A clean stainless steel roasting dish is just not the same. But then again it can be me, I have noticed as I grow into maturity, a decided tendency to reject the new and spiffy and rely on the old clobber. Mind you there are some things that you just have to have, blenders, mixers, induction cook tops and oh, I would say about a million or so small, but in my case utterly essential tools and appliances which no kitchen of mine could ever possibly not have.
Turned the page and became nauseous. They are now introducing a bread that is made with gelatine. Gelatine is for Jellies. Claims that the bread is made much softer and delicious with the addition of this product. I could feel the spirit of Tommy Digby move at that moment, as if to haunt the page and try to expunge it from view.
So much flour is grown under less than ideal conditions and so much of the wheat and grain is grown with way too many chemicals. Its all about production and money money money. Its about way to much of our wheat and grain farms being taken over by multi nationals and using the same techniques as are found in the USA, developing mega farms. Bugger it, I want to see Australian farms left in the hands of farmers who have farmed and grown on them for generations, I don’t want to see us loose our quality and our standards. I am also alarmed to see that GM modified flour is fast becoming a reality and that is not good.
Google organic flour and you will be surprised to see how few growers and mills there are, it is not of major interest or impact in the over all sales and these would have to come from the bread manufacturers of the ubiquitous white sliced loaf, sold and eaten by millions, I don’t know that even amongst the artisanal bakers of bread, you could actually buy a loaf that is baked from certified organic flour. It may be that owing to some regulation and price manipulation, the cost of a fully organic commercial loaf would be too high.
But lets take a look at the operators of the bakeries in Australia. I am sure that in some there will be found men and woman who have served their apprenticeship and have learned their craft and cooking ability. I have in my possession a hotel training manual from the kitchens of what was the Victoria Hotel in Little Collins street. This hotel was the hotel that served the vast majority of country people who came to Melbourne for various reasons, it offered great clean accommodation and a dining room that specialised in foods similar to what would be found at home. It boasted an almost self sufficient kitchen and amongst the things that they did was to bake their own bread. The manual covers all the steps and moves in detail for not only bread, but cakes, biscuits and deserts. It is, by any standard a revelation and should be used today by the many bread shops which dot the landscape offering mediocre food and called by themselves, artisanal. Indeed it may well be an art, but it certainly lacks the taste and food values that, as an indulged fellow in a town of just 2000 people, came to accept and expect from the three bakers in town. I wonder what sort of courses are offered and their content in the food teaching facilities today, are the young bakers required to undergo some sort of formal training, or is it a matter of learn as you go on the job, you wonder how much learning is needed to simply add water and stir well to the 'bread mixes' that are supplied by head office. Mind you to know just what is in those mixes would also be of enormous interest.
Sadly we have become a society that accepts that mediocre is good enough, that bread the like of which I grew up on is no longer widely available and that should you be lucky enough to have a great baker near you, then you are going to pay extra for the bread. Complain bitterly I say, bitch and moan and you will get good results. Do not accept second best, maybe the odd time, specially in the area of human relations, but when it comes to food, no way. Or bake your own bread...
1 kg bread flour (slightly higher Protein content)
780 mil water
20 grams salt (I usually add 1.5 desert spoons of cooking salt)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 level dessertspoon of sugar... no more.
Put all the above into a container (I use a 10 litre plastic bucket with a lid) that you can leave it in overnight. Use the handle end of a wooden spoon and mix until all is combined. The mix will look lumpy. With 20 minute intervals ... wet your hand and pull the dough from the corner (4 directions) into the middle, stretching well. By the end of the fourth round, your dough will be silky smooth and a little on the wet side. Put it to sleep overnight.
Turn your stove on to 240 Celsius and put into it a lidded cast iron casserole pot. The idea is that it should get as hot as the oven. Meanwhile sprinkle a little flour around the perimeter of the container, release the dough and do a bit stretch of the dough upwards and fold to the other corner, this is called stretch and fold. Do this for all 4 corners, twice. Wait until the pot and oven have reached heat, remove the cast iron casserole, sprinkle it well with flour, carefully lift the bread into the pot, replace lid and return to the oven. Cook for 30 - 35 minutes with the lid on, remove the lid and cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Simple, delicious and rewarding.
COOK BOOKS and a MOAN
A relative took did a massive cleanse and clearance of years of accumulated … well crap. Much of it was showered on my household and then took a trip to its final resting place.
However, from the cascade of years of detritions, a few things were interesting. Said relative was a huge fan of catalogue and online buying of a wide cross section. This ended in an accumulation of amazing gadgets. The vast majority of gadgets found their way elsewhere. The cook books, landed with me.
The library of cook books I have now is substantial and tell a tale of radical change in the food we cook and eat. Up until the sixties and seventies, the kitchen and what came out of it was fairly stable, we did see the influence of France and Italy on the food we ate. With the advent of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school by Hume and Downes in 1975, with the impact of foodies like Julia Child and Elizabeth David who encouraged us to spread our wings.
And spread we did, vast doors swung open. In 1975, the National Trust ( a group who included many wealthy influential people who had an interest in the finer things of life ) produced and published a work called Cork Fork and Ladle (written in ornate cursive script to indicate its adherence to tradition). The book took me on an immediate journey.
1975 saw me involved in a world of design and food. I was an up and coming Interior Designer, pawing his way up the social ladder since it was the key to success. Jennifer and I attended way more openings, social events and dinners, cooked more Fillets de Boeuf than a decent son of a butcher had a right to. Urged on by Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1 and 2, were soon producing Pates as fine as any that ever graced Haute Cuisine (except I never ever pushed the pate through a fine sieve, I thought that was overkill) , delved into the world of Terrines. Drew a line at poncing up vegetables in small round unnatural things, but adored the many things that could be done with chocolate. On one spectacular occasion, was greeted by a hostess who had produced no less than three of the great chocolate dishes, roulade, mouse and chocolate pate. It was a tour de force chocolate feast.
Another of the books, not part of the shower, but bought by me at a junk sale was called ‘Cooking with a French Touch’. Published in London in 1952 by two Swiss/French authors. The introduction itself is a wonder of good advice that today, would be roundly ignored. The 1950's was a hot bed of cook books, Elizabeth David published her first five books, Julia Childs first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in the USA in 1961. James Beard, famous American cook and writer published his first book in 1940, the influence of which was small and limited to the USA. Margaret Fulton, the undoubted queen of cooking in Australia and major influencer in every Australian kitchen, published her first cook book in 1968, followed by a flood of others.
It seems to me that there is great danger in change, the loss of men and women who can cook, the loss of people who want to cook, the confusion of cooks who find themselves overwhelmed by recipes and choices. The influence of ‘influencers’ whose job is to direct people in the direction of their employer. The influence of media who quickly saw food and cooking as a great money making opportunity and promoted modestly talented chefs to great heights because of their ability as TV stars. Their actual contribution to the cooking of food was questionable. In one case the celebrity Chef, rarely appeared sober and consumed vast quantities of wine as he cooked. Perhaps it can be said that he assisted the wine makers more than the cooks.
Hospital Auxiliaries were guilty of producing an endless flow of cook books, as was the Country Women’s Association of Australia, I was an avid collector of all, they were a window into a world that I much admired, cooks who were the backbone of Australia, who could run up a sponge cake or a batch of scones in a jiffy. Cooks who knew how hot their wood stoves were, who every day produced 3 meals for their families and often for others during intense work times in the country, who could also keep cake tins filled and biscuit boxes topped with sweet and savoury. My absolute all time fave from the CWA and Hospital Auxiliary world was ginger fluff sponge filled with mock cream. That said, I was also exceptionally fond of the banqueting stuff, the times when the towns come together to celebrate. My mother was always in charge of getting the debutantes up to scratch for the local Deb Ball. The supper room was a sight to behold.
I am told I am getting close to my use by… I am channelling my Grandfather, he worked until he was 85+ and when he stopped, moaned about the inactivity of it all.
I have not changed, the bloody world has changed, become way way less careful in its choices, is it organic?? More importantly was it made with care, love, knowledge and understanding. Organic is absolutely no criteria, so slack, so little faith so little regulation, anyone can claim organic. There is no one to stop you. It’s like free range eggs, now if ever there was an area of dishonesty, this takes the cake. Even organic free range poultry is massively suspect. Organic, free range – indeed.
It has taken years and years to gather the experience, knowledge and understanding of what I do, it has taken about five minutes for modern technology to develop, even less time for people to live their lives on social media. And that will all change soon as the next new thing rolls along. As I said to someone today, I liked the times of writing a good letter, if it was urgent, send a Telegram or make a call. I am far from convinced that immediacy has improved our lives. Not at all sure that being able to watch a life being snuffed out by ISIS executioners on my IPhone is ripper. I don’t get it, why do we need to see the war and horror as it happens?
We have lost so much, time mostly, simple elegant time. No one has the ability anymore to do nothing, just be in the moment. Everyone has to be fulfilled, jumping about from place to place, making deals, stitching up this or that, money money. What happened to the striving and obtaining of the 40 hour week? Where’s that gone. Is it really necessary to work 60 + hours a week just to pay a mortgage.
When was the last time you sat with family, enjoyed food, batted the air, laughed and cried. God I miss that, I miss my family rocking up for Sunday nights food, I miss getting to know my grandchildren around a great table, sharing love and laughter.
No one can go back, there are lots of times when I would love to be able to live a more genteel life, kick back. But you can’t. Preserving the whole past doesn’t allow for a future. Keeping the best bits seems the way. The UK has a better handle on this, they all love the past, the rituals, the foods, the country side, more mellow. I’m dead sure that London beats with a vibrant thrum, social media ruling. Yet in amongst all this there remains a great love of bespoke things. Food, clothing, lifestyle items, all made with great care and love and a tender vibrant acknowledgement of the past, the routes.
True to, that this way of living is not something that everyone can afford. But I don’t make product for the masses, I like to tip my hat to them and deeply acknowledge their right to a place in the now, they don’t understand me! Never have. I remain as enigmatic to them as they to me with their love of fast foods and beer. I don’t get it. I don’t frankly expect them to get me. We just have to co-exist.
But you know what, I am not going to bend to social media, I will use it any way I can to further the causes I care about. I will post the written word on Instagram, I will get katty and bitchy with politicians and anyone else I perceive to be mucking with a world I have grown to cherish. I will continue to make food and products that are the best, I will occasionally be drawn into new worlds as portrayed by people like Ottolenghi. But I will hold on tightly to the ways and means of people like Julia Child and battalions of foodies who have gone before, leaving legacies of great food, simply cooked and steeped richly in tradition.
A question, is it possible that someone today will create and leave a legacy of food dishes like Beef Burgundy, fabulous Pasta dishes, for that matter a family roast dinner. Or is it all done. Sorry I cannot think of a dish that has been created by todays doyens of food that is passing/has passed into greatness and will be cooked by generations to come. Take a look at what is lost, what has simply vanished, sponge cakes, fruit puddings, suet puddings (most people have no idea what suet is) home baking in a simple, everyday feed the family sort of way. We are losing beef and lamb stews that are the backbone of early country cooking in Australia.
It is important to grow, to explore and enjoy, it is important to know the foods of other countries, knowledge matters. But knowing is not synonymous with throwing out the old, what was wrong and awful with the old is for the bin, but not what was simple and good. Complexity is fine, diversity of food also fine, but we are not all chefs with kitchens equipped with every known device, mostly we need to cook foods that will feed, enjoyably, our families and friends.
We all use the vast array of electronic devices to explore, many think that television cooking shows are sufficient and induce a warm glow of satisfaction. Social media now is useless in trying to impart knowledge, more than three words, a challenging image and all is lost. Devices rule and how a whole generation is heading towards becoming blind because the writing on a mobile phone is about 3 point and in my case, unreadable.
I am reliably informed that ‘Instagram’ is widely loved, widely accepted and the way of now. This has to be garbage, this is simply a device for vicariously looking into a few lives, gathering followers and not having to leave the safety of a secure environment. If living is heading this way, we are in deep doodoos.
It’s imperative that we continuously look at the way we live, how we communicate, how we eat, what we eat, preservation of the planet. It’s not right to look with envy at the life styles of the wealthy, it’s not alright for governments of all persuasions to need more and more money to keep them in ineffective office. I am seriously considering a move to Denmark or Sweden, they seem to have it about right.
Curry or Kari??
Curry or Kari?
Mum loved a curry, so to did Dad, I was often appalled. Mum's curry was always bright yellow (Keens Curry Powder or Clive of India) with black bits of sultana, a banana chopped into it just before serving (she made a mistake here, it should have been a banana chopped, drizzled with lemon juice and dipped in coconut). I occasionally meet people who actually crave this dish. Amazing! The 'curry' was served with a tablespoon of rice (always have to keep some for Dad to have with some home made plum jam and cream). When I moved to Melbourne, ate curry cooked by people who knew how, I just could not go back to the Iris version, even the rice she cooked was not great... she simply did not know how, apart from what she was taught in cooking clases at her school.
Many of my friends ate Curried Sausages and Curried Eggs as part of their everyday food. These, mercifully were not in Iris's repetoire. But for anyone wanting to explore and try... simply google, there are a million recipes.
We simply did not, until many many years later, understand what curry is all about
It is a term that is from the Tamil language and it means sauce - KARI
India has not any such thing as 'curry' in its culinary lore, it is always referred to as a sauce. India has a diverse culinary heritage that wavers according to who is running the country, what religion is in ascendance and the poverty level of the population. It should also be noted that in Indian religious lore, some are not permitted any meat, some a little, some various. It needs to be understood that 40% of Hindus do not eat meat or flesh of any kind, that Muslims regard beef, pork and crustaceans as impure. Sikhs are not vegetarian, Buddhist vary, more about the region from whence it came... eg: Tibet is to high to easily grow vegetables. In this way, many combination of spices were blended, cross pollinated and used. Some Indian Hindu devotees pursue a diet that is free of onion and garlic, difficult when making a spicy sauce, but overcome a little with the use of Asafoetida, which is permitted.
(Asafoetida is a resin from a plant that grows in central and central tropical India, it is said to have the aroma and taste of onion, garlic and mushroom. It is called Hing in India and was referred to as 'Devil's Dung' by early explorers of culinary India. It can be purchased in the lump of resin form or more commonly as a powder. The powdered form is often found with Besam flour (chickpea) and Turmeric added.
The balance of South East Asia has a variety of what is loosely termed curries. They are meats, fowl, fish and vegetables cooked in a sauce that is usually made up of strong flavour bases, onion, garlic, ginger, chili, fermented fish (Belacan) and a variety of herbs and spices with the addition of a liquid such as coconut milk, this is cooked to a sauce and the main component added if it cooks quickly (eg: fish and vegetables) or often it would be precooked to either brown it or partially cook (Pork, Chicken or Beef). The reality is that this is not a curry but a kari. In various of the South East Asian countries it is called by a local term, in Thailand dishes are not referred to as curry, but 'kaeng' meaning a water dish.
The point is that we need to be more understanding of this genre of foods if we are to enjoy them in our ever growing repetoire of kitchen magic.
Beef has long been a favourite in Australian eating. It has in the past few years and indeed today continues to undergo a variety of changes. We have seen the introduction of the feed lot, we have seen the conversion of the public perception from red meat/yellow fat to pink meat/white fat (blame the industry and the major players) we have seen the introduction of many chemicals that have impacted in ways that we still do not completely understand (hormones causing some issues for young people). We have been pursuaded that beef is good for, bad for us and everything in between. We seem to be in a place where we feal we need to pay high prices for 'real' beef. In many ways this price/quality issue is dividing the community into haves and have nots. It seems that the spin doctors have succeeded in maintaining their customer base in the majors.
The beef industry is now telling us that consumption of beef is dropping away, and are trying to reverse this situation. May be a loosing battle, the public is now rapidly pursuaded this way and that, the clique of the celebrity chef is not helping since they rarely use any meat of the cheaper end, rare to see them cook with shin, stewing steak etc. it is mostly better cuts. Celebrity Chefs are indeed in my opinion doing a lot of damage, they cook food that is beyond the ability of most people and thus do not encourage people to cook.
Food in its most elegant and pure form is simple, depending on the raw ingredients for taste and enjoyment. To pick a glorious piece of meat, know that it was grown and raised in the best possible way, free from the incursion of chemicals, on natural grass and had lived a life that was more than a few months old, to cook it in a way that is both simple and direct, to add enough spice, salt, pepper to it but not excessive, to serve it on a plate that enhances and even does honor to the animal, then to enjoy the food with respect, is an act of amazing humility and grace.
Not all of us can have the leisure, money, time or will to be able to enjoy food in this way, for many food is a simple means to an end, to keep surviving and to this end, the food is accepted in what ever condition it is found and cooked. Many people who eat like this are happy to use every bit of help they can to ring from the food its last drop of taste. Many cooks who live on very small budgets have learned over the years to do many things to help make tough meat more tender (slice it thinly) to make vegetables the centre of the table and add a variety of herbs and spices to foods to enhance.
Australia: The tradition here is based off what could be called stew, so essentially it depends on a Curry Powder, in the past Keens Curry Powder and Clive of India, now a variety, but always yellow and most Indians would say,a Madras style.
1.5 kilo beef (cheap cut such as shin, skirt, stewing steak ect) cut into a 2 cm dice. The better end cuts tend to 'dry out' as they cook.
1 large onion sliced
1 carrot diced
1 stalk of celery sliced
1 tblspoon of a yellow curry powder (PW Madras)
1 litre of liquid stock
1/2 cup plain flour
Fat, 125 mil/gr ... this can be oil, but would have traditionally been dripping.
2 diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 x 3 cm piece of garlic chopped fine.
Method... dredge the meat in flour. Put the dripping or oil on to heat and fry the sliced onion until lightly browned, remove and saute the meat in batches and put with the onions, saute the celery and carrot and add the curry powder to the pot and saute that a bit with the vegetables. Return the onions and the meat to the pot, add the stock (most would not have had stock and would have used water).. it will start to become yellow. Cook on a slow gas or in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Optional extras can be added at the vegetable saute stage and proceed as before.
India: The subcontinent has many many different versions of curry (kari) it is hard to pick one that would be an example... in the North in Kashmir the curry is much browner and onion based, mostly cooked with lamb, in the west Beef is found, killed by the Muslim butchers and therefore able to be used by the Hindu's. In central India and to the north, beef can be found, it should be remembered that the cow is a sacred animal and thus not favoured by Hindus.
1 kilo beef (your choice of cut, but one of the working cuts) diced in 2 cm
1 Onion sliced
3 cloves garlic sliced
4 cm piece of ginger sliced
2 tablespoons curry paste (Rogan Josh, Madras, Kashmiri or your personal favourite)
2 dspns of Garam Masala
2 Tomatoes diced
1 cup of water
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1/2tspn black pepper powder
In your mortar place the onion, garlic, ginger, curry paste, garam masala, sugar, salt, pepper and pound to a paste with the pestle. Add the diced tomato at the end and lightly pound it. Place the paste in your best caserole pot with a little ghee and fry until it is fragrant, add the meat and fry a little until well coated, cover with until just covered.
Cook over a slow flame (heat) until the meat is tender. Most Indian curries are not thickened beyond that which happens as it cooks. The curry is cooked when the meat is tender.
Serve with steamed rice and condiments... chutneys, pickles etc. It can also be eaten with Indian breads. The meal is usually accompanied by freshly prepared salad vegetables like cucumber, tomato, red onion. I also like some pounded mint with some yoghurt.
South East Asian: Curries are very very varied, ranging from Rendang to Green Curry and versions in every Asian country. It needs to be understood that wet cooked meats are a way of making the meat tender and also in the case of dishes like Rendang, preserving the meat. In my travels through Asia, most of the households did not have large refrigeration and in nearly all cases, the curries were left out overnight, with no apparent problems.
This is the recipe for Rendang, I like it a bit on the dry side, but it can be wet.
3 desert spoons of the Peter Watson Rendang Paste, fry in a splash of oil - gently, just until the aroma starts to rise.
1 kilo of beef, added to the now lightly fried paste and cover with water.
Bring back to the heat and cook gently until the liquid is all but evaporated and the meat (or vegetable) cooked, but staying in shape.
Add one can of coconut milk and continue cooking.
Add 1 cup of dessicated coconut that you have dry fried until it is golden brown.
Cook until the coconut milk is almost gone and oil or fat rises to the surface and the cooking changes from boil to fry, fry for 5 minutes until dry and well cooked.
Choices: Traditional Rendang is served dryish, but you may elect to leave it a bit wet, it is up to you.
Serve... with rice (plain rice is usual, but you can flavour the rice if liked).
For those inclined to further exploration
Bolognese Sauce... much misunderstood
Seems like a very very misunderstood sauce, this is a sauce that has been mucked up by almost every country. It has certainly been mucked up by members of my own family and me.
Bolognese Sauce is a native of Bologna region of Italy where it is known as Ragu, it is not a tomato sauce, but a meat based sauce that has some (in fact quite little) tomato in it. The recipes from 'experts' vary between using canned tomato or tomato puree or both.
Canned tomato is a relatively recent innovation of the past 100 years or so, before that it was preserving tomato by drying them or by drying the flesh and this lead to Tomato Paste. Tomato was introduced into Europe in about 1490 (give or take) and spread throughout the Mediterranean regions because it was found to be ideal growing conditions.
Pasta itself was (thought to be) introduced into Italy when Marco Polo returned to Italy in 1295. It is clear that from that date, sauces were created to cater for the eating of pasta. It is not known how old Bolognese Sauce may be, but that it is ancient, is not in dispute and that it was a sauce for the wealthy is also not in dispute.
What is more apparent is that it has been seriously badly treated around the world. The cry of Spag Bol and many other names given to this sauce/dish are a clear indication of it being turned into a go to cheap fast food for busy and not particularly discriminatory eaters. Bolognese people would never eat it with spaghetti, but with wide noodles like tagliatelli.
A bit of research among the Italian foodie community has turned up a few interesting facts and 'issues'. The queen of Italian cooking, now no longer with us, Marcella Hazan, is as ever, quite determined in content and method... whilst I don't swear that my recipe is her's, or that I slavishly followed her recipe, I didn't. But the spirit and essence are here.
1 kilo of minced beef (ask the butcher to please have at least 20% fat).
1 kilo of minced pork, same proportion of fat to meat.
200 to 250 gram of minced bacon, pancetta or similar (I have occasionally used Salami when all else was unavailable).
1/2 cup good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 pieces of celery about 20 cm long
2 large carrots
2 large onions (Italians use yellow onion if they can, its milder)
4 large cloves of garlic
1 cup of cream
1 x 200 gr organic tomato paste
1 cup of red (or white) wine... I used red
1 cup of beef stock
1 can of chopped tomato (500 gr)
1 tablespoon of herbs, I used dried oregano, but rosemary, thyme or basil are all acceptable.
Put the carrots, celery, onion, garlic in the kitchen whiz and blend until all is chopped but NOT reduced to a puree.
Put the oil in a saucepan (I always use a bigger than I should need pot, easier to stir!) and add the chopped vegetables and the meat, allow this to cook until the meat has commenced to turn grey, here Marcella is very strict... you must NOT fry the meat and allow it to become browned, it will ruin the taste!! At this point add the cream and allow the meat and vegetables to cook a little in the cream and then add the stock, wine, tomato paste, canned tomato and stir well, this now needs to commence a long slow cook for three or four hours until the meat and juices have all combined. I add some herbs at the point where the long cook is starting, but not salt or pepper, this is added at the end.
Should the sauce start to become too dry, add some water or beef stock, just remember that the stock could be salty.
In the end, your sauce should be very rich, the meat well cooked and very soft, it should NOT look like an over ripe tomato. This is a meat sauce.