Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains says we've been cooking ragu wrong

‘Moisture is the enemy’ apparently

Updated on 17 February 2020

Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains says we've been cooking ragu wrong

Two Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains has revealed that we are all cooking ragu wrong, in a new interview.

Ragu might seem like a fairly uncontentious dish; an easy staple on many a family’s roster of week night suppers; a wholesome winter warmer that provides the ultimate comfort when served atop a pile of pasta with lashings of parmesan. And yet, according to Nottingham chef Sat Bains we have been cooking it all wrong – and with two Michelin stars to his name, he should know. According to Bains the secret is… wait for it… to let the ingredients stick to the pan. While this idea might fill you with horror, Bains insists that this is the only way to ensure you’ve extracted maximum flavour from the minced meat.

In an interview with Mail Online outside Restaurant Sat Bains, the eponymous chef’s two-star eatery on the outskirts of Nottingham, he went on to explain the method behind this madness.

'Making a proper ragu takes three or four hours. You can’t do it in 20 minutes’ insists Bains. ‘The stages are layers, so when I make a Bolognese or a ragu, I caramelise the meat.’

‘The enemy is water’ he continued, ‘anything that’s got moisture in – that’s just no flavour.’

‘So when we make a sauce, we extract moisture. You get your mince, you put it in a big pan, you sweat it off, it goes steamy, that’s all the moisture in the meat coming off, then it starts crisping, and that crisping means the fat is now being released and the water has gone.

‘So you’ve got to listen to it. Then it starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, which is the best bit. What’s sticking to the pan are all the tiny shards of meat. Don’t catch it so it’s dark, it should be a toasty bronze colour. But don’t panic if there are dark bits. Next up, you add your veg - and you need to repeat the process', says Sat.

‘Remember – moisture is the enemy. It’s in mushrooms and shallots and veg… it’s all about eradicating the moisture to get the caramelisation, where the flavour is.’

Follow these steps and Bains assures ‘You’ll end up with a deep-flavoured ragu.’

(But if you don’t have four hours to spare, we won’t judge you for sticking to your trusty non-stick method.)

Prefer to have your ragu cooked for you? Here’s our list of London’s top Italian restaurants.