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Beef Ragu

As the temperatures drop down into the single digits, there’s something comforting about walking into a house smelling of slow cooked ragu. As someone who has never had a white Christmas or seen snow, I maintain that the best part of winter is the food. And of course, the excuse to drink red wine. You’ll need about a half a bottle of red for this recipe, so go ahead and open up a bottle.

Like with most slow food, it’s better to use a cheap cut of meat like chuck or blade, though you can also use rump or pre-diced beef. I’ve always liked to use chuck for the fat that’s marbled through it, but that’s just personal preference.

Rather than worry about your stove, put the oven on and go out and do your thing – enjoy a pint at the pub and come home to a ready-cooked meal. If that’s not winning at life, I don’t know what is.

disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for you leaving your oven on unattended and heading to the pub. If you’ve been to the pub and forgotten how time flies, this is you. Who am I kidding, this is most of us – yeah, just put a timer on your phone okay?

Cheat’s Beef Ragu
serves 4-6
adapted from Jamie Oliver’s shin stew

3 tbsp oil
1kg chuck or blade steak, diced into 1″ cubes
2 tbsp flour
4 cloves garlic
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
350ml red wine, pref a Cab Sav
1 litre beef stock, or water + stock cube
2 x 400g tins diced tomato
2 bay leaves
1 tsp mixed herbs, or herbs of your choice
freshly ground black pepper

pasta, rice or potatoes to serve

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C, or 150C if you’re planning on leaving it for more than 4 hours.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan or non-stick roasting disk, heat the olive oil and gently fry the garlic, onions, carrots and celery until softened slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
  4. Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together, then add the wine, stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, herbs and salt and pepper. Add more liquid if necessary, just to cover the ingredients by 1cm. 
  5. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of tinfoil (this is important!) and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon. If the consistency is still too liquid, you may need to put the pan back on the stove over a medium heat to reduce the sauce. 
  6. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the herbs and serve with pasta, rice or potatoes.