Just to be clear about Monday night’s procedure. The resulting goop can then be used as the basis for soup, pasta sauce, lasagne, parmagiana di melanzane, chilli con carne, etc. Very useful to divide into lots and freeze.
You will need:
- 50-100g pancetta (if the butcher tells you that he don’t have owt of that foreign muck, then just ask for dry cured belly bacon instead; it’s the same thing, and has less of a mark up)
- one large or two medium onions
- half a bunch of celery
- half a dozen medium sized carrots
- 800g tinned chopped tomatoes
- half a litre of hot vegetable stock (i.e. boil the jug and use some Marigold Boullion)
- 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, butter, olive oil
Do the following:
- Dice the pancetta and put it directly into a large pot on a low heat; just hot enough so that it makes a soft sizzling noise. Keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally whilst you’re chopping the veg. You want the pancetta to darken (but not go dark brown or black!) and the fat to run off. If a few bits stick and a bit of a light brown glaze appears on the bottom of the pan, don’t worry.
- Chop up the veg into about 1cm pieces – sorry about the vague quantities above, but we want to end up with roughly the same amount of onion, celery and carrot. (Some supermarkets do bags of pre-prepped soffritto, which is a time saver, but often very wet, so you may need to be patient when you fry it.)
- The pancetta should be done in about 5 mins, so throw in the veg, add a pinch of salt, turn up the heat, and add enough oil/butter so that they’re coated, but there’s none pooling at the bottom of the pot. Less is more in this case.
- Fry the veg for about 5 mins, until translucent. If the onion gets a bit gold about the edges, and if more stuff sticks to the bottom, even better, as long as it doesn’t go black.
- Whilst the veg are going, get the stock ready and hot.
- Sprinkle over a tablespoon of plain flour and stir furiously, so the flour coats the vegetables, doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and gets cooked.
- After about a minute of mad stirring, turn down the heat, pour in about a quarter of the stock and blend in, and then add the rest. There should now be nothing left sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, and pepper.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mix reduce for about half an hour.