Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Crock Pot Rustic Italian Beef Ragu

Okay this is the last meat recipe for a while.  I was feeling clearly far too generous over April vacation!  I will say that, out of the three meat meals I made that week, this was by far my family's favorite.  In fact, Alex ate this for days, until he probably was close to getting food poisoning from eating old meat.  I watched him eat thirds on two separate occasions.

So, what is this popular meat dish that Alex ate for meal after meal?  It's a beef ragu, which even I have to admit is something I used to order from time to time at Via when they still had it on the menu.    It's slow cooked - and I mean slow; it cooks in the Crockpot for 12 hours.  It took me a while to figure out a timeline for this; if we wanted it for dinner, was I going to have to get up at 6 AM on vacation to touch meat?  I think not.  I ended up deciding to stay up late one night and do the prep work around midnight.  Then we could have it for lunch the next day.

This meant waking up the next morning smelling meat.  Not a very fun experience.  Even the carnivores weren't keen on smelling beef at 9 AM.

This was my small but meaty serving!
Regardless, it was time for lunch at noon.  I even bought fresh pappardelle pasta at Wegman's to serve it over as a special treat (as if serving them meat isn't special enough!).  Everyone loved it.  It's rich, filling, warming, and meaty but with specks of onion, carrot, celery and tomatoes.  It even has a small amount of pearl barley to add some texture. The recipe even calls for some butter and Parmesan on top - I did not add these though.  It's got something for everyone.

The recipe says it serves 4 plus leftovers, but I think it is safe to say it serves 6-8 with leftovers.  After all, I bought a 4-pound roast, and that is no small hunk of meat (thanks to Mom for doing the cutting and browning for me!)


crock pot Italian beef ragu
from Vikalinka
serves 6 - 8 with leftovers

3 - 4 pounds beef roast
olive oil
1 handful each fresh rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1/2 bottle Chianti
2 14-ounce cans plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons pearl barley
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds fresh or dried pappardelle
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 handfulls grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


1) Chop onion, carrot and celery.  Mince garlic and chop rosemary and thyme and put everything on the bottom of a CrockPot.

2) Cut roast into 2" - 3" cubes and brown them in olive oil in a frying pan over high heat in stages.  Don't overcrowd the meat so it browns nicely.  Add it to the vegetables.

3) Off the heat, pour wine into the frying pan and use the wooden spoon to loosen all the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan - thats where much of the flavor is concentrated.  Pour the wine into the CrockPot along with canned tomatoes.

4) Sprinkle barley all over, which will add texture and more flavor to the ragu, not to mention fiber and nutrients.

5) Add a teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper.

6) Cook on low for 10 - 12 hours.

7) In the last hour, take the lid off and shred the beef with 2 forks.  Add a tablespoon more of fresh rosemary and thyme and a splash of water or wine if the meat is too dry.  Cook for 1 hour longer,

8) At the end of cooking time, stir in butter for more flavor and to add a gloss.

9) Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.

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