Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Bolognese and Black Garlic

Black garlic is one of those ingredients that I have wanted to cook with for ages. It's made by fermenting regular garlic which turns the cloves black and gives it a great flavour. If you've ever heard anyone go on about Umami, the fifth flavour, the taste that you get from black garlic is what they are talking about. It has a sweet and savoury flavour that almost tastes a bit of balsamic vinegar and goes really well with ingredients such as olives, soy, monkfish, tomatoes, mushrooms and red meats. 

So when I finally got my hands on some, the first thing I tried was using it in a bolognese sauce - it has beef, tomatoes, mushrooms and should work perfectly together. Also, my wife likes adding a bit of balsamic vinegar to her bolognese sauce which always tastes good, so I'm taking a lead out of her book and adding it to this recipe as well.

A lot of bolognese recipes will tell you to simmer your sauce for a couple of hours, I prefer to put it in the oven at a low-ish temperature for a few hours as it cooks it more evenly. I sometimes find that when you simmer the sauce, unless you stir it all every 5 minutes, some bits will cook more than others leaving a few tough bits in the sauce. I know it's traditional to use spaghetti, but i like to use linguini as it has more surface area to soak up the sauce.

Bolognese with Black Garlic

Olive oil
250g cherry tomatoes
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
2 celery sticks
3 cloves regular garlic
250g chestnut mushrooms
300g beef mince
50ml red wine
4 cloves black garlic
500g passata
1 beef stock cube
3 bay leaves
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
handful fresh basil
handful of fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees and put the tomatoes in with a little bit of olive oil and some salt.
2. Finely dice the onion, carrots, celery and garlic - I use a blender to save time but don't let it get to a puree.

3. Heat one teaspoon of oil up in a large frying pan and add the diced veg. Cook the veg through until it has lost the raw onion smell. This should take around 5-10 minutes. Once the veg is cooked take it out of the frying pan and add it to a casserole dish and cover.

4. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the frying pan until they are cooked through. Add these to the casserole dish.

5. In small batches, about 100g at a time, fry off the mince for a couple of minutes and add to the rest of the cooked ingredients.

6. Add the red wine to the frying pan to de-glaze it. With a wooden spoon, scrape off any bits of beef left in the pan and add the wine to the casserole dish. 

7. Mash up the black garlic and add to the rest of the ingredients and then add the crumbled up stock cube.

8. Once the tomatoes have been roasting for about half an hour, take them out of the oven and strain them through a sieve into the dish, throw away the left over seeds and skin, then add the passata, the balsamic vinegar, the herbs, sugar and the salt and pepper.

9. Mix all the ingredients together and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Then cover the dish and put it in the oven at 150 degrees for 3 hours.

Serves 4-5

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