A mighty, meaty ragu

I used to be a season ticket holder to a great rugby team, the Harlequins. I always enjoyed going to watch them play and if the weather got too cold I could buy mulled wine by the flask. It would always warm me up nicely and take the edge of the cold. Sadly I had to give the ticket up when we moved, it is just too far to travel and the thought of having hours of (quite regularly)a  dysfunctional train journey home put me off. I enjoy rugby but I don’t watch it on TV and therefore there can be a bit of a clash in our household.

Due to bad planning it turned out that we had invited guests for dinner right when England was playing Samoa. Even worse was that the game started just as we sat down to eat! Well it was a compromise in a democratic spirit and the game was on TV but without the sound. Not ideal but it didn’t stop the flow of conversation.

Luckily I had planned to make a manly dish, very suitable to go with a game of rugby! In order to make this I went to the butcher, the shop was empty. I was so pleased as my list was a bit long. The Black Pig Butcher sells all parts of the animal and they have so many delicious and unusual cuts I always get carried away. This time was no different, I had to get some skirt steak, perfect for the freezer. The butcher has the best brisket and I was lucky as she has plenty. I got some of that for low and slow cooking. A few pigs cheeks caught my eye so I got some of those. She had delicious lardons and what ragu won’t benefit from some of those?! The shin of beef looked perfect, a bone for flavour and a few chicken livers finished off my shopping round. By this time there was quite a few people waiting behind me trying to figure out how all that meat would make a ragu!  Needless to say I left with a smile, very pleased with myself. The ragu takes a long time to cook but it mainly looks after itself and it is very worth while. Don’t be put off by the amount of ingredients, it is easily adaptable to what you have at home as long as you have a meat that requires low and slow cooking.


As it was so cold I  decided to kick off the dinner with a soup. I had some stock left from my lobster bisque stock.  I couldn’t get another lobster so I bought a crab and prawns and used that, with the lobster stock for a seafood bisque. I will never throw away lobster or crab shells again, they hold so much flavour. I cooked it the same way as the lobster bisque but with crab and prawns instead of lobster meat and it was just as delicious.


I had bought more prawns, I had some good eaters coming so thought I would make a small additional starter.


Prawns and avocado with rye crutons

preparation time 10 minutes 

cooking time 0 minutes 

serves 6 as a starter


  • 2 pint of shell on prawns
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 garlic clove
  • dill

Rapeseed mayonnaise

  • 1 tbsp mustard, I didn’t have any smooth mustard so I used grainy
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • about 1/5 dl or 3/4 cup rapeseed oil

Rye bread crutons

  • 1 slice dark rye bread
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients except the rapeseed oil.




Add the oil slowly whilst whisking. Add oil until the mayonnaise is firming up and soft peaks are forming.

Peel the prawns. 22Nov_Prawns



Cut the rye bread in to small cubes. Heat the oil, add the bread and sesame seeds when the oil is hot. Pan fry crispy and taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until serving.


Cube the avocado, chop the dill, cut each prawn in three and mix with the mayonnaise along with the garlic. Taste with salt and pepper. Spoon up and sprinkle over the crutons.





Mighty meaty ragu

preparation time 20 minutes

cooking time 4 hr + 30 minutes or until the brisket is fall apart tender

oven 160C or 350F

serves 6


  • brisket, 600 gr 21 oz
  • shin, 200 gr or 7 oz
  • lardons, 100 gr or 3.5 oz
  • 2 chicken livers
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pork cheek, appr0x 70 gr or 2.6 oz
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 onions
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tsp black and green pepper corns, mixed
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 5 dl or 2.5 cup passata
  • 4 dl or 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 chipotle chiles
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms, soak in 2 dl or 1 cup hot water.
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Last add 1-2 dl 1/2 – 1 cup of water

Peel and chop the carrot together with the onion and the celery. Bring water to boil and pour over the shitake mushrooms.

Take out the meat for the ragu. 22Nov_Meats


Cut parts of the brisket small and some in to larger squares. Remove the gristle from the shin and cut up the meat. Set the chicken livers aside for later.




Brown the meat including the bone in hot oil in an overproof pan. Add the chopped vegetables and let cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato purée, the thyme, bay leaves, cook another few minutes. Chop the chipotle chiles rough and add along with the smoked paprika and the pepeprcorns. Pour over the passata, beef stock and the shitake mushrooms and the water they soaked in along with 1 tsp of salt. Place in the oven and leave for 4 hours. Check from time to time that the meat doesn’t go dry, add more water if necessary.


Ragu for cooking 22Nov_RaguStewing


The ragu is done when the brisket is fall apart tender. Remove the bone and the larger parts of the brisket. Pull the brisket, remove the meat from the bone and add back to the ragu.Place on the cooker and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken liver and cook through. Remove the chicken liver and mash in to cold milk before adding the mixture back in the pan. Taste with salt and pepper as necessary and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. I add more water, about 2 dl or 1 cup before serving to loosen it up.


I thought about serving this with pasta but the local cauliflowers on sale  are still so plentiful I opted for a cauliflower and potato mash.


I poached some carrots in orange juice and fresh ginger and served them al dente for texture.




I made an onion and tomato salad for freshness and served up.




The ragu went down a treat along with the mash and was consumed , lasting longer than the rugby game, washed down with red wine along with vivid discussions of all topics that social etiquette claims we should avoid, politics and religion. I am pleased to say no one fell out or even raised their voice, phew!


The long cooking time was worth while, the ragu was very rich, very meaty and well, I guess a bit manly in a very edible way!








9 Responses to “A mighty, meaty ragu”
  1. soullfire says:

    I enjoyed reading backstory intro that segued into the preparation and consummation. Sounds like a great time together with VERY laid back friends to be able to touch all those hot button topics without anyone’s blood pressure rising. 😉

    • petra08 says:

      I am glad you liked it 🙂 Well I didn’t notice any fighting but managed to change the topic with dessert, so much in life is about timing 🙂

  2. Love a hearty rich ragu, Very nice that you served with potato and cauliflower mash, The prawn and avocado on rye is wonderful also. A great meal.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Suzanne
      Thank you 🙂
      I tried to counteract the rich ragu a little, it was still a rich meal but nice and worth the cooking time 🙂 The prawns are one of my favourite dishes! x

  3. Mr Fitz says:

    loving that ragu… saints all the way though…

  4. flippenblog says:

    Oh the husbands and the rugby! I know that feeling so well. I take a b-line on Saturdays just not to hear that rugby sound from the TV.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Elmarie
      Isn’t it always the case? 🙂 Saying that I still prefer Rugby to football but ice hockey to Rugby! Cooking and eating to all of that!

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