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 the goods

2 good sized chops (on the bone. beef shank chops are perfect. A nice pork chop works too)
2 x 750g/ 27oz containers of Italian Passata (sieved /strained tomatoes)
750g / 27oz canned tomatoes
1 lg onion
olive oil
1 tblspn flour
red wine
1 tspn brown sugar

time: 15 mins active. About 6 hours simmering time

You will need: one large pot (with lid)

ragu mama

My friend, Dom, has only ever cooked for me once.
According to the DNA mandate that all males make one signature pasta sauce, Dom made a version of this sauce for me.

I couldn't believe how tasty it was and I started reeling off what I suspected to be the ingredients.

When all the usual herbs and spices, including garlic, had been whittled off the list, I was left with tomatoes, meat and onion.

What was the magic ingredient?

Time for each of these primal goodies to unleash their innermost secrets. Time for sugars to concentrate, time for acids to tame, time for muscles to unfurl and connective tissue to dissolve.

Isn't it lovely when a flavour whispers instead of screams?

I keep this sauce very simple: sieved tomatoes, a couple of chops (often 1 pork chop, 1 beef chop), some olive oil, a peeled onion and a little seasoning. If I have one, I toss an old parmesan rind into the pot. If the chops stick when I sear them, I deglaze the pan with a tiny splash of red wine. I might add the sugar; taste first.

I cook it up in a large pot for about 4 hours...gently, my friend. Chill it overnight. Fetch out the bones the next day (scooping any marrow back into the pot) and heat it up again.

At this point, you can freeze half of it, or just keep eating it all week. First time I serve it over hot buttered noodles tossed with green beans and chili flakes.Second time 'round I add paprika and mushrooms to the pot and serve it goulash-style with hot dill sprinkles boiled potatoes. Third time I add some cumin, cayenne, garlic and beans and serve it as chili or sloppy joes.

the recipe:
1 tblspn flour with 1/2 each salt, pepper and paprika.
toss into a plastic bag, add the chops and shake about
heat 2 tblspns of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot
sear the chops on both sides in the hot oil. about 4 minutes each side. if the chops stick to the bottom of the pan, pour a splash of red wine into the pot and then turn the chops.
pour in the tomatoes and passata.
peel the onion. trim the top and tail of it and peel the outermost layer off it. add it to the pot otherwise intact. If you have one, add a parmesan rind.
simmer slowly for several hours, stirring occasionally to make sure that nothing is catching to the bottom of the pan. I recommend 4 hrs, cool on the stove, chill overnight. Remove the bones the next day and then reheat for a couple of hours. Break the meat up a little if you have to; it will probably have fallen apart.