Let’s be honest, professional footballers as a whole tend not to be the sharpest knife in the drawer (pardon the pun!).

And then there’s Marcus Rashford.

Here’s someone aged 23 who despite the prestigious wealth the game has bestowed on him, has never forgotten where he came from, which in his case was a working class area of Manchester, brought up by a single mum of three.

Granted, he may still have the top of the range car, best clothes and amazing home, but he’s definitely very much – unlike many of his fellow footballers, got his feet on the ground (again pardon the pun)

How many others could force the Prime Minister of the country to perform not one, but two U-turns for example?

Never mind footballers, there’s very few people in the world, and we include respected world statesmen and the heads of the global tech companies in this category, who could achieve the same, and certainly not when they were 23.

But Chef Chris, we hear you say, this is all very well and good, but what’s this got to do with food? We don’t want to read a political blog.

Don’t worry, my dear blog readers, this is just a set up so I can talk about school meals, given this week is National School Meals Week, and that is a subject very close to Marcus Rashford’s heart and why, because of his amazing efforts, he’s already the holder of an MBE. At the age of 23!

Depending on your age, you may either have fond, or not so fond, memories of school meals. Chances are you sat down to a starchy meat pie with mashed potatoes that were so hard they would break a window and dessert would be some sort of sponge pudding with pink custard (yes I said pink!).

Then it moved on to chicken nuggets, burgers, pizza and turkey twizzlers, all very health fare, that is until Jamie Oliver got in the act.

Now, thankfully, school meals are much healthier. School meals in England now have to include at least one portion of vegetables a day , and no more than two portions of fried food each week.

There’s also more food from around the world on school meal menus, Italian food being a great example. If you visit any school today, the chances are you will see pasta on the menu, and this week’s recipe is a good example.

See, I brought it back around to food in the end!

Slow cooked beef Ragu with pappardelle

Ragu:

  • 600g beef shin (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • Water
  • 1 large glass of good quality red wine
  • 40g olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 110g sliced shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp ground bay leaf
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 130g tomato paste
  • 130g passata
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooked egg pappardelle

First place a frying pan on a high heat add the olive oil and then place in the seasoned shins, cook on both sides to make sure you get a deep golden crust. Take out the meat and then add the shallots, carrots, garlic, herbs and spices. Cook till the shallots and carrots are tender.

Deglaze the pan with red wine reduce by ½ then add the paste and passata and cook for 10 minutes. Add the shins back in and fill with water just to cover the shins with about 3 cm of water. Cook on a simmer for 3-5 hours depending on the size of the shins. The meat should fall apart letting you know the meat is ready.

Take the meat out and allow to cool enough to shred with your fingers. Meanwhile let the cooking liquor reduce to form a thick rich meaty sauce, once reduced add the meat back into the sauce and finish with a hand full of chopped fresh parsley.

Serve over fresh egg pappardelle pasta and bottle of Chianti, or something soft for those not of legal drinking age!

Chris Brown
About Chris Brown
Sous Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.