At Ben Shewry’s Melbourne fine diner Attica, the dishes are artful, surprising and world-class. But, at home, the New Zealand-born chef isn’t afraid to keep it simple.
Shewry grew up with cattle-farming parents, so there was no shortage of beef mince around. His mother taught him how to make bolognaise when he was just eight – and he’s still making a version of it. “I love the simplicity of the process,” he says. “It’s always lovely to come back to a classic dish.”
While Shewry is of the opinion that no bolognaise is a bad bolognaise, he has one rule: “The mince can never be lumpy.”
He also recommends making this recipe in bulk – it freezes well and makes for a great toastie filling. “I like to make [it] with thickly cut slices of Baker Bleu sourdough, lashings of good butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pyengana cheddar, plus freshly ground pepper and extra salt.” He also opts for a syrah from New Zealand's Church Road, or otherwise a shiraz.
Ben Shewry’s At-Home Bolognaise
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 4.5 hours
80g olive oil
750g beef, coarsely minced
750g pork, coarsely minced
100g garlic, finely chopped
150g shallot, finely chopped
150g carrot, peeled and finely chopped
40g celery, finely chopped
500ml whole milk
750ml syrah or shiraz (Shewry uses Church Road's Hawke’s Bay Syrah, as he's a partner of brand)
3 fresh bay leaves
30g whole thyme (stem and all)
200g sliced prosciutto, finely diced
700g tomato puree
700ml thin tomato water, made by saving the water used to rinse out the tomato puree jar or tins
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste (if necessary)
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté beef and pork until lightly brown. Make sure there are no lumps.
Add garlic, shallot, carrot and celery and sweat for 4 minutes.
Add milk and simmer until reduced completely.
Add red wine and simmer until reduced by three-quarters.
Add bay leaves, thyme, prosciutto, tomato puree and tomato water. Bring to a low simmer and add salt to taste. Cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Cook for 30 minutes then adjust seasoning with salt, a little sugar if necessary and freshly ground black pepper.
Simmer gently for a further 4.5 hours until rich and tender. Check seasoning.
Serve with your favourite pasta. Our tip: make a lasagne from the leftovers.