I’m not gonna lie, 2020 was not my year. But then I guess that spending a considerable amount of time on the couch in one’s trackie pants and slippers, whining about the ‘so-many-eth’ wine ban, is hardly conducive to being in the best frame of mind or particularly creative in the kitchen. I’m back with a New Year vengeance though, cooking up a storm and coming up with all sorts of new recipes. I would pretty much cut off my right arm for a good spaghetti Bolognese. Mostly I do what everybody does and use beef mince. If, like so many of us, Covid (now there’s a word I never need to hear again!) has touched your pocket, think pork instead of beef. It’s way, way cheaper and incredibly versatile. Pork loves fennel. And it loves white wine.

Just before the end of last year the people from Du Toitskloof sent me a lovely surprise parcel containing a bottle of their Merlot, a bottle of their Chardonnay and a cheeky T-shirt with the words “slap tjips – iconic like Du Toitskloof”. I test-drove the Merlot pretty quickly. And the T-shirt is my new favourite thing to sleep in. But the Chardonnay has been patiently waiting in its pretty box on my dining room table.

Last Friday I finally opened it, because my pork Bolognese calls for a decent dry white wine and Du Toitskloof’s Chardonnay is just the thing. I set a proper adult table, with flowers and candles, and sat down to toast a New Year with a glass or two of iconic Du Toitskloof. A New Year that I hope will be way better than the previous one, and filled with interesting new dishes and wonderful times with my people around my table.

All you need is…

750g pork mince
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup water
1 whole dry red chilli (NB, it must be whole, you do not want the seeds in the mince)
tub of crème fraîche
zest of 3 lemons, very finely grated using a microplane

Place a large thick-based saucepan on high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Tumble in the mince. Pork mince is incredibly subtle, so it’s really important to build layers of flavour by getting proper caramelisation on the meat. To achieve this, do NOT stir the mince initially. Keep and eye on it and let it cook until you have good golden brown caramelisation on the bottom. (NB: well caramelised and burnt are not the same thing!)

Now it’s time to tumble in the onions. Stir fry it on high heat for another minute or two, then add the garlic and the tomato paste. Continue to stir fry over high heat for a further minute or two so the sugars in the tomato paste have a chance to also start caramelising. Add the flour for the final few seconds and stir until it disappears. Now deglaze the pan with the white wine. Stir to lift all those gnarly dark bits from the bottom of the pan – it’s pure flavour.

Add the salt, pepper, fennel seeds and water. Pop the whole chilli in, turn the heat as low as possible, pop the lid on and walk away. Low and slow is the way a Bolognese wants to be cooked. We’re talking at least two hours. Check it from time to time to see if it needs a bit more water. If your heat is low enough and you are using a good thick-based saucepan it should be sufficient. Add only a wee bit extra water if required. You want a sexy thick Bolognese, not a watery sloppy mess. (NB: remove the whole red chilli after the first half hour of cooking. It will have done its job giving an ever so slight spicy background note.)

Dish the pork Bolognese up on cooked spaghetti or fettuccine. Make it extra wonderful by adding a generous tablespoon of crème fraîche to each serving and dust the crème fraîche liberally with lemon zest. The contrast of the rich pork Bolognese against the cool crème fraîche and the perfumed lemon zest is just lovely. Pour a glass of Du Toitskloof Chardonnay and tuck in!

ABOUT DU TOITSKLOOF CHARDONNAY:

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown on cool mountain slopes, and vines that are 10-15 years old. The leaf canopy is managed to ensure that the grape bunches are not in direct sun and picking happens at night, when it’s cooler. Half of the wine is fermented in French oak barrels and the other half in stainless steel.

The wine is aged in wood for six months before bottling. This is not a premium Chardonnay, nor does Du Toitskloof intend it to be. What it is, is a very pleasant pocket-friendly everyday wine, as so many of Du Toitskloof’s wines. Plenty good enough to share with friends over a lovely informal dinner, and priced so you won’t blanch at the thought of opening a second bottle. It is wooded of course, but incredibly subtly, showcasing lovely vanilla background notes. It’s lushly fruit forward, with citrus and limes notes as well as a hint of dried peaches.

serves

6

prep

20 min

cook

2 hrs

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