Three years and two houses ago, we hosted our friends for a dinner party featuring a slow simmered Braised Beef Ragu and homemade pasta. We had just returned from our honeymoon in Italy and were brimming with new recipes to make. This "meat sauce" has become a staple in our house - we make it about once every two weeks. My recipe from three years ago is very basic - and easy, and delicious, but through the years I've made some tweaks and changes that I've grown to love even more. Of course, easy and simple is always good, but this is the kind of recipe you should make when you want to relish your time in the kitchen - like on these cold, dreary winter days.
I make this version with stew meat - much leaner than a chuck roast (per the original), but still gets very tender and falls apart (a good thing...) after it has been slow simmered. Also, instead of the wide pappardelle pasta, we opted for homemade tagliatelle - sort of a very thin fettucine pasta. However, any shape of dried pasta works really well with this - penne, cavatappi, ochiette, spaghetti, etc.
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1/4 cup of olive oil
2 ribs of celery
1 yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic
6 large green olives
1 cup of red wine
2 pounds of stew meat
1 - 28 ounce can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves (about 6 large leaves)
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
pasta (homemade or dried)
parmesan cheese for serving
Finely mince (or use your new food processor from Christmas like I did) carrot, onion, and celery. In a large sauce pan, dutch oven or stock pot, add the olive oil and cook minced vegetables over medium heat until they've softened - about 3-4 minutes.
Finely mince (or whirl in the food processor) together garlic and olives; add to the cooking vegetable mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
We are lucky enough to have a freezer full of fresh beef from my Dad and brother's farm - all pasture raised.
Add red wine and stew meat to sauce pan with vegetables and olives. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add can of tomatoes and herbs to the food processor and whirl.
Smells so good. Add them to the sauce.
Add salt and red pepper flakes.
Simmer on low for 4+ hours until the meat is very tender and easily breaks apart. With two forks, break apart the meat so it is in shreds.
Add cream, parmesan and fresh basil.
Cook for 10 more minutes.
My pasta makers have been busy at work... perfect activity for a snow day.
Cook pasta in salted, boiling water 2 minutes short of instructed cooking time - for fresh pasta that equals about 30 seconds, for dry pasta about 6-8 minutes, depending on the shape.
Strain it, then put it directly into the pasta sauce, tossing to coat.
Serve with extra parmesan on top.