A Hearty Ragu

It was all as you said it would be.  ‘They’ll be fine’, you said, ‘they will rise to the occasion’.  And I can tell you that is exactly what happened even though when it came to looking after the little guy and caring for the home, one rose a lot higher than the other.

Serve with pasta

A hearty ragu

Of course, for our time away, we did have back-up.  We had Drew’s PA on stand-by who enthusiastically embraced her additional duties of checking in on the kids.

A hearty ragu

Serve with pasta

As agreed, she turned up at the house at 8.30am the day after we flew to Bali and knocked on the door so she could take the little guy to school.  No answer.  She knocked again.  All quiet.  She phoned Archie’s mobile.  No answer.  She phoned Arabella’s mobile.  No answer.  She called the home phone which is really loud (because I deliberately have the ringer turned up as loud as it can go), and then she heard someone staggering down the hall.  Eventually.

Sprinkle with a little parmesan

Sprinkle with a little parmesan

Opening the door was a very sleepy Arabella who had been shocked out of her coma by the home phone ringing and ringing and ringing.  Everyone else in the house was also in a coma.  And there was about 20 minutes before the little guy needed to be at school.

This recipe serves eight

This recipe serves eight

The PA swept into action, brushing past sleepy-head and tripping over her crutches to whisk Alfie out of bed and into his uniform.  There was a quick breakfast and a sort of a brushing of the teeth and he was marched out the door with his bag on his back, ready for school, sort of.

Made with veal and bacon

Made with veal and bacon

I did think there might be an issue on that first morning due to everyone having to be up so early the day before (actually Archie hadn’t even been to bed), then heading off to the Mini-Mos where Alfie ran 17kms, went to a fun fair, played with his cousins then had dinner with his grandparents.  That sort of a schedule can be tiring.

A good family meal

A good family meal

After that first morning, the PA decided to call in earlier and before leaving her house she would phone on all mobiles and the home phone to give advance warning of her imminent arrival.  They took that as their wake-up call.

Not one for the vegetarians

Not one for the vegetarians

And that’s what went on while we were in Bali.  A lot of relying on the PA to get everyone out of bed and apart from Archie forgetting to take out the bins, their time in my absence was largely uneventful.

Good on a winter's night

Good on a winter’s night

Before I left for Bali I made a few family meals that are freezable so the kids had something they could put on the table for dinner.  I didn’t want them dining out of pizza boxes for 10 nights.  This is another meal that can be made in advance, is family friendly and freezable.  This recipe feeds eight.  I like to make this much so I can put half into a zip lock bag and freeze it but feel free to halve the recipe if preferred.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine if desired

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine if desired

5.0 from 6 reviews
A Hearty Ragu
Recipe type: Family Cooking
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A hearty ragu that's family friendly and suitable to freeze.
  • 2 tbspns olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 rindless rashers of bacon, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1kg (1lb) cubed veal
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
  • 800gm tinned, crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk rosemary
  • 4 stalks thyme
  • small handful of parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil.
  2. Add onions, celery, carrots, bacon and garlic and cook until softened and the fat has rendered from the bacon.
  3. Add veal and stir until browned.
  4. Add white wine and bring to a boil.
  5. Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme and season. Bring to the boil then simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender. If meat is in big chunks, use a spoon to break into smaller pieces.
  6. Serve with rigatoni pasta or similar. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese.
Dinner is served

Dinner is served

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  1. A lovely dish, Charlie. I’m glad they (more or less) rose to the challenge. It was probably a good exercise for all of you.

  2. Thank goodness for the back up! This exactly what would happen if I left Laith with his older sisters. I guess it’s the age, that what I tell myself and hopefully they will grow into some responsibility!
    I’m sure they appreciated the food in the freezer. This looks really good, hearty and filling. Perfect for your colder temps right now. We’re searing here right now, 🙁

  3. What a wonderful PA Drew has. Just as well by the sounds xx

  4. Eventually, they’ll be able to manage on their own without the early morning wake up calls. You just have to go away and leave them in charge more often. 🙂

    Great ragu recipe.

  5. Thats brilliant you have someone to round the troops up and ensure life keeps happening in your absence. Not the case when we were growing up, I remember missing school a number of times because Mom was away and dad forgot to set alarms and stuff.

    YARM! I love me a hearty ragu, absolutely going to make your recipe, it looks and sounds delicious. Your photography is gorgeous too.

  6. Amazing backup. We don’t have a younger sibling for the Glams to look after when we’re away, just the Glam Pooch. The incentive not to oversleep is the cleanup job if they do! great looking ragu, I’ve never used veal, at all actually, I must try this. GG

  7. What a good move it was to get the PA involved. So glad it all went smoothly.

  8. Yay for Drew’s PA. What a star. Great ragu – we are also having cold evenings so all the hearty recipes are coming up for making.
    Have a happy week ahead Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  9. Meal planning this next fortnight. 🙂 but I will use chicken, despite veal being VEALY GOOD according to Basil Fawlty, The Other Half is not a fan..

    It makes me sad, because it means I can’t serve up a dish and say it is VEALY GOOD.. 🙂

  10. Wow what a relief! I am glad that apart from one slightly rocky start that it all went well! 😀

  11. Glad to hear everyone survived!!! Although, I suspect this is a forewarning for you that when THEY have kids, you’ll be the one giving them wake-up morning calls to make sure they get up every morning!

  12. What a fantastic PA!!! How lovely to be able to travel and know that everything and everyone would be taken care of. 🙂

  13. So happy all went well while you were away. I’m sure you are beyond appreciative to that wonderful PA.

  14. Ah kids. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them. But your ragu looks superb. And it’s 100 degrees where I live.

  15. Oh, how I laughed at the need for the back up wake up calls. They might have risen to the occasion but it sounds like they wouldn’t have risen from bed if it wasn’t for the PA!

  16. Hi Charlie, after reading your blog for a while now I felt that your family would rise to the occassion. Also you chose wisely on your helper, how smart of her to start phoning ahead. What a delicious meal you left for them,

  17. LOL, see you knew that there needed to be a back up plan 🙂 Glad they were all A-OK when you got home. Whew. It’s nice you got some couple time!

  18. I love the look of this Charlie. Such a perfect winter meal! I’m starting to stock up the freezer for when Bubba number two arrives so shall add this to the list.
    I’m glad they all survived but yes lucky the PA was on board!

  19. Laughing, but glad you had a back up. What is it with young people and their sleep? I’ll never get it, though I have direct experience! A good ragu rates up there as one of my favorite all-time meals. I can’t think of much better or more comforting–lovely version of a favorite.

  20. I could eat this forever. I’m glad the PA was on duty and the young one got to school on time. They would have survived without you though. 🙂

  21. Glad all went went in the end and your ragu looks delicious! I wish I could try some now Charlie!

  22. Glad it all went well. They are lucky to have you to organise them with food and wake up calls. Sounds like the PA was a wee gem – can you please send her to my place to get Sylvia ready for school in 20 minutes – I would be most grateful – she doesn’t even need to wake me up 🙂

  23. I have been waiting to read about how things went while you were away and am glad all went well. Now you can go away more often and not worry.
    Your ragu is making me hungry and I just had breakfast.

  24. What a marvelous ragu. I’m glad everyone survived while you were gone. Sounds like the PA needs a raise! 🙂

  25. That’s hilarious! Looks like your kids are totally ‘Mommyfied’ ;-p

    That’s one good PA your husband has. Love the recipe.

  26. Dear Charlie,

    We could all do with a dish like this in this cold Sydney weather.

  27. it’s a recipe that my husband would love!

  28. A WONDERFUL dish of hearty loveliness Charlie and I loved your story telling too! I can’t wait to make this when the cooler weather arrives! Karen

  29. That PA is one smart person. Although a pain to have to deliver all those wakeup calls! Anyway, I love a good ragu, and usually have some in the freezer. Yours looks terrific — thanks.

  30. Love the use of veal in this recipe. Hearty, indeed, Charlie!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  31. That looks so good Charlie. It is a warm summer day here in New England but that dish is talking to me…I’ll be making your ragu soon.

  32. Ooh you can’t beat a ragu in winter! Love the look of those fat rigatoni tubes too.

  33. Sounds like a great group effort! Drew’s PA to rescue! And you provided great meals. I’ll bet they were all very glad to have you home to keep the ship upright!

  34. What a great PA! And this ragu looks phenomenal; so hearty and delicious 🙂

  35. I wondered how they all got on without you. Thank goodness for PA’s I say 🙂

  36. Oh, I am so behind with my blog reading – if I had known this one was going to be so amusing I would have got to it earlier:-) and the ragu looks fab. Bet they are all (including the PA) that you are home!

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