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Stonker's Pasta alla Carretiere

Serves 4
Difficulty: easy peasy
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking: 30 mins min - but the sauce is much better simmered for about 45 mins

Smoked bacon lardons 1 pack (100-125g) .
(At a pinch, chop up some good bacon rashers, but supermarket ones tend to be full of added salt and water and are nowhere near as good as the real thing. Ideally - and it makes an absolutely MA-HOOSSIVE difference - use a similar quantity of proper Italian Pancetta from a real Italian deli, chopped into small cubes).
Tuna 1 can
(Tuna steak is better than chunks. Tuna in oil spits less than tuna in brine/spring water)

Italian Cherry Tomatoes 1 can
(From Waitrose/Sainsburys – nice and sweet. Tinned chopped tomatoes are OK as a substitute).
Garlic 1 or 2 cloves
Porcini - dried mushrooms - about ¾ dessert spoon between 4.
(dried ceps mushrooms. Waitrose/Tesco/Morrisons/Budgens all do them. They have a very strong flavour and cost a fortune - use them very sparingly. I've also used a couple of tinned anchovies for a change.)
Olive oil

Pasta; about 3½ oz/pers
(Purists - spaghetti; Northern Europeans - fusilli is good)

Place the mushrooms in a small dish, cover with boiling water, and leave to soak for 10 mins. Add to the sauce at the same time as you begin to cook the pasta,

Peel and squash the garlic (put it under the flat of your kitchen knife, and thump it with your fist), fry in a saucepan till softened and golden
(tip: put the garlic in the oil, before you sart to heat it; this helps to avoid scorching the garlic).

Add the bacon/pancetta, fry until cooked through.

Drain the tuna and add to the pan; stir and simmer for 5 mins, till it takes up the bacon flavour.

Add the tomatoes to the sauce, bring to the boil, simmer for at least 20 mins (45 mins is better).

Meantime, cook your pasta, and stir the mushrooms into the sauce.

Serve, with grated parmesan or black pepper to taste,
That sounds wonderful I used to make something similar and managed to lose the recipe and could not for the life of me remember it of the top of my head will be giving this one a go.


Book Reviewer
Mr Fingerz' Beef Stew With Barley

You will need:

1 large saucepan or casserole
1 Sharp knife
1 Wooden spoon
1 Vegetable peeler

1 Large Onion
1 Lb (450g) Stewing Beef
1 Lb (450g) Potatoes
1 Lb (450g) Carrots
2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes
2 Cloves Garlic
Dried Mixed Herbs
1 Beef Stock cube
Tomato Puree
1 Glass Red Wine (optional)
½ Cup Pearl Barley
Vegetable Oil


1. Heat a small amount of the oil in the large saucepan/casserole. While the oil is heating dice the onion and add to the oil. Finely chop the Garlic and add it to the onions. Cover and allow the onion and garlic to sweat in the oil.
2. Dice and trim the beef (basically chop the beef into half inch cubes and remove any extraneous fat – discard the fat) and add it to the pan. Seal the beef (brown it all over) and allow it to cook with the onion mix.
3. Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into large chunks and add to the pan.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes.
5. Scatter the dried mixed herbs over the mix in the pan.
6. Add a large squeeze of tomato puree (if using a tube – a desert spoonful if using jarred).
7. Crumble the stock cube over the mix (top tip – crush the cube whilst it’s still in its foil wrapper, this stops you getting beef stock all over your fingers and you can just pour the contents of the foil over whatever it is you’re adding it to).
8. Add the barley and the red wine (if using).
9. Stir the contents of the pan
10. Add enough water to cover the contents of the pan and bring to the boil.
11. Once boiling lower to temperature to a simmer cover the pan and leave for at least two hours. (If using a casserole, you can leave it in a low oven).
12. Serve in large bowls with crusty bread (if desired).


Book Reviewer
Mr Fingerz Cottage Pie

You will need:

One large saucepan
One medium saucepan
One large casserole
1 Sharp knife
1 Medium Saucepan
1 Frying pan
1 Wooden spoon
1 Potato masher


3 Rashers of Bacon
2 Large Onions
1 Clove of garlic
Tomato Puree
Mixed Herbs (dried)
1 Beef stock cube
2 Tins chopped tomatoes
1 Glass red wine (optional)
Vegetable Oil
450g (1lb) Minced Beef
450g (1lb) Carrots
450g (1lb) Potatoes.
Grated Cheese

Place the large saucepan over a medium heat.

Firstly, roughly chop the bacon and add to the saucepan. Then peel and dice the onions and peel and finely chop the garlic. Add this to the pan. Give it a good stir and cover. Leave it for about five minutes or so. The fat from the bacon should be all you need to fry off the ingredients, but if it looks like this is not happening add a little of the vegetable oil.

Now add the mixed herbs, a good squeeze of tomato puree and the stock cube (Top tip, crumble the stock cube by crushing it whilst it is still in its foil wrapper. This makes it easier to spread evenly over the other ingredients and you don’t get bits of stock cube all over your fingers). Give it all a good stir and add in the chopped tomatoes and the red wine (if you are cooking with it). Again give it all a good stir.

Cover the pan, and let it get on with cooking.

Now take the frying pan and put it over a high heat.

Once the pan is hot dry fry the mince in batches until it has browned. You are aiming to cook off all of the excess fat that is in the beef, and browning the meat adds to the flavour. As the meat is browned, add it to the tomato sauce. Pour the excess fat off into one of the empty tomato tins and dispose of it.

Once all of the meat has been added to the sauce, allow the sauce to cook for as long as you want – I try to leave it for about an hour (or longer if possible). Stir occasionally to ensure that it’s not sticking to the pan.

Pre-heat the oven to a hot oven
While the sauce is cooking, peel and dice the potatoes and add to the medium saucepan. Add water and boil for twenty (20) minutes. Once the potatoes have cooked, drain, and then add a small amount of milk and a large knob of butter to the potatoes as you mash them.

Set to one side.

Top and tail (take the ends off) the carrots and then peel them. Once peeled, finely dice the carrots (alternatively baton (cut into small sticks) the carrots) and set aside.

Once the meat sauce is cooked.

Pour half of the sauce into the large casserole, now add the carrots, and finally add the rest of the sauce.

Place the mashed potatoes onto the sauce, cover with grated cheese and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.


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