Sunday, 2 January 2011

The godfather of all New Year's Days

There are some things that are only acceptable on New Year's Day. Having the worst hangover of the whole year just gone. Having absolutely no guilt about not getting dressed. Telling yourself seriously that by this time next year you'll be two stone lighter/ tee-total/ in the perfect relationship/ have quit your job. Oh or watch almost nine hours straight of mafia-classic-epic The Godfather trilogy.

Yes, I'd never seen it, and, well, you could say watching it was one new year's resolutions that it was pretty easy to tick off the list. But if we were going to do it, we were going to do it in style. Italian style. Proper Bolognese, bottle of Chianti (hair of the dog, the only way through) and a huge portion of tiramisu. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

Authentic Rag├╣ Bolognese
This Delia recipe is almost as epic as The Godfather so best make ahead and make lots, you can freeze the extra (makes about 8 portions)

450g lean minced beef
450g minced pork
around 225g chopped chicken livers
140g chopped pancetta or streaky bacon
6 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 fat garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
2x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2x 200g tubes of tomato puree
half a bottle of red or white wine (Delia suggests red but traditionalists would go white...)
15g packet of basil
1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
And two off-Delia additions:
2 medium carrots, grated
250g packet of mushrooms, grated

First up brown off your minces seperately and add them to your biggest casserole dish (which is not on the heat). Then fry up the garlic and onions, add the pancetta or streaky bacon and cook until the onions soften and the bacon browns and cooks, lastly add the grated carrot and mushroom and continue stirring until cooked (left). Then add this to your casserole dish.

Finally add more oil to the frying pan and fry off the chopped chicken livers (add these even if you think you don't like liver, you can't taste them individually and it adds a secret richness to your bol sauce). Finally add these to your meat medley in the casserole dish (right). Add in your chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, wine and a very healthy seasoning of salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

Pop this over the heat and bring to a simmer. Now this is where I've got to argue ol' Dels has got it wrong. She suggests putting the mix in the oven uncovered for 4 hours. We've tried this. It dries out. So you could put it in the oven partially covered to reduce. Or you could do it our way and cook it over a low heat on the hob for 4 hours. Yes and you have to keep stirring so it doesn't stick. It is painstaking method but boy is it worth it.

Spaghetti may be the pasta known for bolognese but fatter tagliatelle is far better (and what the Bolognese have with their ragu sauce) as it ropes in the sauce and gives it something to get hooked up on. Fresh egg pasta is best, so flash it in boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain, top with the ragu and a healthy shaving of parmasean, unplug the phone, pour a glass of Chianti, draw the curtains and settle down to a mafia marathon...

The three acts to The Godfather triology are perfectly timed to make the tiramisu between part one and two and for it to be set and ready to sweeten Sofia Coppola's wooden acting in part three.

Jamie does... Best Tiramisu
serves 12
(the Italians might kill him for messing with the classic recipe but this version has a kick of orange zest, richness for chocolate and an added lightness of egg whites through the mascapone)

200g good dark chocolate
50g diced butter
175g sponge fingers
400ml good hot sweetened coffee
Sweet dessert wine (Jamie suggests Vin Santo - however we went for Tia Maria...)
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
750g mascapone
2 oranges
to garnish some crushed coffee beans, chocolate shavings or cocoa, orange zest

Melt your chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, although make sure it isn't touching the water. Add the diced butter and a pinch of salt and melt and stir to combine.

Line a large deep dish with sponge fingers, then carefully pour over the hot coffee. Add some booze to your melted coffee, stir through and then drizzle over the fingers and spread evenly (in a bit messy style... left).

Seperate the eggs with whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Add sugar to the yolks and if you fancy another swig of booze an whisk with an electric whisk for 5 minutes until everything is mixed and pale and fluffy. Mix in the mascapone and the zest of an orange.

Clean the whisk and whip the whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks - using the old turning the bowl upside down trick again. Using a large spoon, add spoonfuls of the white mix to the yolk bowl (right) and fold each through.

Spoon the mix over the chocolate layer and smooth. Garnish with a dusting of coffee and/or cocoa powder (or grated chocolate). Then pop in the fridge to set for two hours and sit down to part two...

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