Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pork & Black Pepper Ragu with Crown Wheat Stout



A few weeks ago I posted about my new-found love for pasta, and this is the first time I have actually formulated a recipe to match a beer. I normally do things the opposite way round; a beer will interest me and then I’ll think about what food will compliment it.

Crown’s Wheat Stout (6.6abv) is wonderful stuff; black, smooth as hell and striking a great balance between sweetness, bitterness and smokiness. The aroma is pure coffee and that tan collar lasts and lasts. It’s got a deeply satisfying, tongue-coating mouthfeel that’s hard to pull off without being cloying – but here Crown pull it off with some aplomb. Anyway, food-wise, here’s what I came up with. Home-made pasta is easy to do, but if you want to use dried, go for a thick ribbon or larger pasta shapes.



Pork and Black Pepper Ragu (Serves 3)
First, make your base: In a large pan, finely chop one large stick of Celery, one large Onion, and a large Carrot, and sweat down in a good slug of Olive Oil. When the veg is soft and translucent, add about 250g of Minced Pork. When this has browned, season with salt and a massive grind of Black Pepper. Next, add two generous spoonfuls of tomato puree, and one small spoonful of pesto. Coat all the meat and veg with it, and just let it simmer for a minute or so to bring out those pesto and tomato puree flavours.

Then, add one tin of chopped tomatoes, and throw in a handful of diced cherry tomatoes too. Stir well and add a little more olive oil. Season again with another good grind of Black Pepper, and chop and add one small chilli pepper and three chopped cloves of Garlic. Stir again, and simmer on a really low heat until the sauce is done. You want the sauce to be thick, and not swimming in Tomato juice.

Meanwhile, make your pasta. Take 200g of plain (preferably Tipo 00) flour, and sift into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add two beaten eggs and knead softly until it forms a dough. When it’s pliable, take onto a floured surface and knead it for a while. Then cover and let it rest for ten minutes. If it’s too hard then add a touch of lukewarm water – not too much though. When really, roll it out and pass through a pasta machine. If you have an attachment that makes Tagliatelle, use that. If not, cut it into ribbons as thick as you like. Drop into boiling, salted water and it will be done in about a minute or so.


When drained, dump the pasta in your pot and stir into the sauce. Serve with big, fresh slices of Parmagiano Reggiano. It really does have to be this cheese; don't go for cheap 'Parmesan' - it's not the same.The smooth, roasty stout perfectly compliments the dry heat in the Black Pepper and the saltiness of the cheese; whilst that faint hit of chilli just rounds things off with more heat. It’s a seasonal, autumnal mouthful and one that I really recommend you try. Making pasta is easy and the results are so much better than dried, so if you’ve never done it, give that a go, too.

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