Serves 4-5 Italian beef ragu with parsley pasta
2 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely diced 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced 2 stalks celery, diced 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves 2 cloves garlic, chopped 600g beef chuck steak, cut into 4cm pieces 2 tbsp tomato paste 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes 1½ cups beef stock 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
500g fresh pasta (tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghetti; or 320g-400g dried pasta)knob of butter ¾ cup finely chopped parsley
1 head broccoli, cut into florets ½ cup shaved parmesan
Preheat oven to 160C, or you can use a slow cooker. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof pan, flameproof casserole dish or Dutch oven on medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery, rosemary and garlic for 3–5 minutes, until softened.
Add beef, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, stock and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in oven for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. Alternatively, if you are using a slow cooker, add everything to the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
When meat is almost cooked, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook pasta for 4-5 minutes or until al dente (just cooked). Scoop out ¼ cup of pasta cooking water before draining pasta. Tip pasta back into pot, along with reserved pasta water, and stir through butter and parsley.
Lightly steam or boil broccoli for a few minutes until bright green and tender. Season beef ragu to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, spoon some pasta and ragu into bowls and sprinkle shaved parmesan on top. Serve with steamed broccoli on the side. Mushroom, leek and butternut pot pies
1 tbsp olive oil 1 large leek, trimmed and chopped 2 stalks celery, sliced 500g butternut, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves 500g mushrooms (a mixture), quartered 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ½ cup cream 1 sheet puff pastry 1 egg, beaten
Broccoli and beans:
200g green beans 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Preheat oven to 200C. Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Cook leek, celery, butternut, garlic and thyme until butternut is soft and leek is beginning to caramelise, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 3–4 minutes, then stir in Worcestershire sauce and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tip into a large baking dish, or into 4–5 medium-sized ramekins (about 1½ cups capacity) for individual servings. Cut puff pastry to size to fit your baking dish or ramekins and place pastry on top of vegetables, allowing a little pastry to hang over the edges. Brush with beaten egg and prick a few holes in the top of the pastry with a fork or tip of a knife. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. When pie(s) are cooked, add beans and broccoli to boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes until bright green and just tender. Drain and toss with a little balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve: Cut pie into pieces or place each ramekin on a plate. Serve with green beans and broccoli on the side. Thyme-stuffed chicken, butternut and spinach with mushroom sauce
4 boneless chicken breasts (skin on) 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves 30g softened butter
Butternut and spinach:
800-900g butternut (skin on), cut in half lengthways and cut into 1 cm-thick slices 1½ tbsp maple syrup or runny honey 1 tbsp olive oil 4-5 cups baby spinach leaves or chopped spinach
¼ cup white wine 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, diced 250g button mushrooms, stalks removed and quartered 1 tbsp soy sauce ½ cup cream juice of ½ lemon
Preheat oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Mix garlic, thyme and butter together. Divide flavoured butter into four and push under the skin of each chicken breast, distributing the butter evenly by squishing it around with your fingers.
Season chicken breasts with salt. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook for 3 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Flip breasts over and transfer to a roasting dish (but don’t wash the pan).
Lay butternut pieces on prepared oven tray and drizzle over maple syrup or honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast chicken and butternut in oven for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (when the juices from the chicken run clear when pierced with a knife) and butternut is soft and slightly caramelised. Remove chicken from oven and leave to rest in roasting dish while you make the sauce.
Place the same pan you cooked the chicken in back on medium heat. Add wine to hot pan and use a wooden spoon to rub the bottom of the pan to release pan brownings into the liquid while the wine bubbles away. Add olive oil and cook onion until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Add soy sauce, cream and lemon juice. Simmer sauce for 2–3 minutes until slightly thickened (it will thicken more as it cools).
Wash spinach and shake off excess water. Scatter spinach on top of butternut and return to oven until spinach has wilted, 2–3 minutes.
To serve: Divide butternut and spinach between plates, top with a chicken breast and spoon over sauce.
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