A warming winter ragu to comfort our inner child

JP McMahon: Comfort food is seen as sentimental, but that’s what we need right now

Child-friendly ragu or bolognese sauce

Child-friendly ragu or bolognese sauce

 

Comfort comes to mind on cold days in January. From risottos and ragus, to stews and soups, winter days like these require dishes to be a little more calorific. Comfort food is often looked down upon in food circles, being too sentimental or evoking unwanted and unnecessary nostalgia. But isn’t that exactly what we want in the depths of our hibernal chills?

Nostalgia is especially important for evoking the theatre of memory that brings together those exquisite moments when consuming those dishes that evoke events connected with our past. We all remember that cantankerous food critic in Ratatouille who was finally placated at the end of the movie by cooking that was both serious and sentimental.

When in search of comfort, I always turn towards a rich ragu, commonly called Bolognese sauce. I’m not sure if it’s the simplicity of this sauce that captures the consolation of my midwinter cooking or the fact that my father made it so often for us all when we were growing up. There is dish inside us all that evokes these feelings.

These days, having two young children, I bow to their desires and blend the onions and mushrooms into the sauce. The carrots, which were once a formidable presence, have been removed due to ongoing protests. They may make a return some day.

To make a child-friendly ragu

Fry a diced onion and two crushed garlic cloves in a little oil. Season with a little sea salt and chopped fresh thyme. Add 100g of chopped mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes and then add a chicken stock cube and a tin of tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes and then transfer to a blender.

In the same pan, fry 600g of beef mince until brown and then add the blended tomato sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes and then season with some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.