A couple of weeks ago I cooked my first beef ragu. I knew what it was supposed to taste like, as my grandmother had been making it for the family since I was a baby, but I had never actually done it myself. So of course I went to my favourite website and improvised a recipe from there. Here it is:
2 tablespoons olive oil
750g beef, trimmed, cut into 3cm cubes ( I used beef fillet, but you can use a cheaper cut)
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 dried bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
400g can diced tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-based, oven proof dish over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, in batches, for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Heat the remaining oil in dish. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Return beef to dish. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, herbs, wine, stock and tomatoes; then transfer to oven and bake for 2 hours or so until beef is tender.
1. One can add pancetta to the dish to give it an extra flavour dimension – add about four (diced) pieces when cooking the onion and carrot and such.
2. I added mushroom, which added a nice meaty flavour to the dish.
3. At the end, I took a potato masher and mashed everything to break up the meat chunks.
4. My mistake was to serve this dish over too much pasta. This didn’t allow the sauce to coat everything and made it taste rather bland (which it wasn’t).