Prep: 20 mins
Cooking: 6 Hours
Serves: 15-20 starter portions
I was asked to contribute a recipe to a big event hosted by one of my favourite producers: James Whetlor of Cabrito Goat Meat. If you have my last book SLOW, you will know that I am a huge fan of goat meat.
Officially THE most sustainable of all meat, because it’s so easy to rear, has to be grass fed and requires little water. It’s madness that we used to eat it more than any meat, but it’s now the least popular. It’s always compared to lamb, but it’s more buxom than lamb. Less fragrant… less strong in flavour. I wanted to show at the event how versatile goat was in a simple ragu, but what I also wanted to do was show how easy it is to combine the goat offal into the ragu to make it even richer and full bodied. It’s something I feel so strongly about and in my research for ragu recipes I came across historical recipes which included everything from livers to lungs in them. I’ve used goat here, and any good butcher will sell you both the meat and the pluck of offal and it’s cheap as chips. This ragu which makes about 15-20 portions, costs about £20 and that’s mostly because of the wine! Look, I know most of you are going to be nervous about trying this, but I’m almost prepared to bet money, that you won’t taste the offal and just end up with SUPERB ragu and I bid you, that if you love and respect what’s on your plate and the work and life that’s invested in getting it there, the please give this a go even just once. You will NOT be disappointed.
5 onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely chopped
2 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped
2 kg goat mince, (double minced with a minimum of 20% fat)
1.5 kg (around) pluck goat offal, the liver, 2 kidneys and 1 heart
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
6 sprigs of sage, leaves picked
6 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
1 bottle of red wine
1 bottle of white wine
2.5kg mixed fresh tomatoes, blended to a passata
1 tbsp celery salt
1 tbsp sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
1/2 nutmeg, grated
- Firstly, prepare the offal by trimming off any excess fat or sinew from the liver, kidneys and heart. Blitz each organ separately in a food processor quickly so to a rough puree and set aside. This will look gruesome, BUT when you fry it to brown it, it reforms into a mince like texture. Trust me and go with it.
- Now, begin the ragu in the classic way by sweating the sofrito. Heat 80ml of oil in a very large heavy based pan over a medium heat, and add the onions, carrot, celery and leeks. Allow this to sweat down for at least 20 minutes, stirring often, until everything is mulched down and really well softened. Meanwhile heat another 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a high heat and brown the goat mince thoroughly, but really mash away at the mince to break it down into finer pieces of mince in the process. Do exactly the same thing with the offal. It’s magic, how this really unsavoury puree, quickly turns into “mince”, over a very high heat. I suggest doing this in several batches so as not to overcrowd the pan and hinder the dark caramelisation required. Once browned set each batch aside. At this stage add the garlic to the sofrito and sweat for a further 5-10 minutes. Finely chop all of picked herbs and add to the vegetables.
- Next add both the mince and the offal to the casserole pan, along with both bottles of wine and then cook the wine off for about 20 minutes. Then add in the blitzed tomatoes. Season with the black pepper, celery salt and white pepper. Now bring the ragu to a low simmer, cover and allow to cook on the lowest flame for 6 hours, stirring occasionally while scraping away at the base of the pan to avoid scorching.
- You are aiming for a really rich, intense ragu with serious depth of flavour. Finally, check for seasoning and give a really generous grating of nutmeg. This is ideal served mixed through fresh tagliolini or pappardelle, a decent lick of really good olive oil and plenty of parmesan and will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
As ever with a ragu, it’s even better the following day.