Sunday, September 19, 2010
Super Simple Beef Ragu
When I say "ragu," I don't mean the bottled sauce with the gondola on the label, although that should point you in the right direction. Ragu is just the Italian term for a meat-based sauce that is traditionally served with pasta. Basically, in this case, it's just browned pieces of steak that are braised in tomatoes and red wine until they're ready to fall apart. In the spirit of trying to use things out of my pantry (I haven't been "real" grocery shopping since the first of the month), we served it over spaghetti. If it had been up to me, I think I would have chosen the extra-wide fettuccine, pappardelle, or even polenta (that would be a gluten-free option!), but even on spaghetti, it was pretty darn fantastic. I am a bit of a pasta snob--I know that it's all just flour and water, but somehow, different shapes taste well, different. Spaghetti is not one of my favorites, but my boys are traditionalists (when I say we're having spaghetti for dinner, we better have actual spaghetti and not even think of having something crazy like angel hair or penne!). I do feel like a bit of a winner in that I've been serving them whole grain pasta lately, though (Ronzoni brand is my absolute favorite!).
This is definitely a recipe to make all day on Sunday and then have ready to heat up on Monday night. It tastes even better the next day and you'll feel so smart when dinner is finished in the time it takes to boil pasta! Oh, and a small confession (one I don't recommend, but it worked in a pinch), you know you're scraping the bottom of the pantry barrel when you top your pasta and sauce with Parmesan cheese in the packets leftover from the last time we ordered Domino's...
Super Simple Beef Ragu
1 pound eye of round steak (or any other cheap, meaty cut of beef)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine (or beef stock)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
hot cooked pasta, polenta or rice
Parmesan cheese for serving
Trim beef of any extra fat and cut into large chunks. Season with salt and pepper. In a large pot, brown beef pieces in oil over medium high heat. Let brown for a few minutes undisturbed and then use a fork to flip over and brown the other side. When beef is deep golden brown on both sides, push over to one side of the pot and add in chopped onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and allow the onions and garlic to sweat a little bit (cook until softened and almost translucent, not browned, reduce heat even lower if they're starting to brown), about 2-3 minutes. Pour in wine, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer until beef is fall-apart tender (length depends on size of beef pieces, but mine took about 6 hours). With a fork shred beef into bite-sized chunks. Serve over hot cooked pasta (or other starch) and top with Parmesan cheese.
p.s. You could also do this in the crock pot...just transfer over to the crock pot at the step where you add all the liquids!