I have struggled with cooking red meat in the past. It’s either turned out dry and stringy and/or too light handed with the seasonings. Hence, it’s not surprising I cook with chicken a lot. Later on, someone told me about the aftermath of eating too much chicken for men - which is all men’s worst nightmare - man-boobs! It was the same reason I stopped giving soy milk to my beloved ha!
Regardless whether the above is a myth or not, I probably don’t want to test it via the hard way, especially not for my beloved’s sake. So, I’ve tried to work with red meat again. Before I go further, I would like to highlight that I’m not going to start a red meat heavy diet and stop eating chicken completely. It’s more from the point of view of trying to diversify our meat intake, a healthy rotation between white and red meat instead of a chicken only diet. In addition, I’m not forgetting the inclusion of a lot fruits and vegetables.
From the cooking’s point-of-view, it’s my goal to be a versatile cook. I like to venture out of my comfort zone to try cooking with different ingredients. It’s part of the fun of cooking at home, exploration and experimentation. It is also a great way to stay away from cooking rut, no?
As I’ve mentioned a couple of posts ago, slow cooker is my favourite kitchen gadget at the moment. As the weather in Orange is getting colder, the need for a slow-cooked dish becomes more apparent. Besides throwing together a no fuss Sri Lankan Chicken Curry, I’ve found myself making slow-cooked beef ragu fairly often.
Usually, you’ll find broth, red wine and bay leaves to be among the ingredients for beef ragu. To keep it rather simple in the ingredient department, my ragu recipe contains only 6 ingredients, not counting olive oil, salt and black pepper. Despite the simplified ingredient list, it delivers in the taste department. Rich, meaty and luscious sauce with the subtle hint of dried Italian herbs to tame the meaty aroma - it is the kind of comfort meal you yearned for on a cold, cold autumn night in Orange.
Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu Pasta
About 6 – 8 servings
What you’ll need:-
- 1 large brown onion, peeled and finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp of dried oregano
- Olive oil
- 10g (about 2 tsps) butter
- 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) chuck steak (cuts that are meant for braising/slow cooking), sliced in half
- 700g (1.5 pounds) passata (tomato purée)
- 500g (1.1 pounds) short pasta
- A handful of flat leaf parsley – garnish
- Parmesan, grated – garnish
Plus 4 hours of cooking time in the slow cooker
In a large pan, add olive oil. Add diced onion and saute until translucent over medium heat. Then add garlic and dried oregano and saute until aromatic. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker and set aside. Use a paper towel to wipe off any remnents. Then melt butter with a small drizzle of olive oil over high heat. When the butter almost melted, arrange the steaks on the pan (make sure not to overcrowd them) and brown them over high heat until the surface appears to be caramelised. Do this over a couple batches depending on the size of the pan you use (I did mine over two batches). Transfer the steaks to the slow cooker. Add passata, 2 tsps of salt, black pepper to the steak and onion mixture. Mix well and allow the steaks to slow cook for about 4 hours (on the highest heat setting available to my slow cooker). Please note that the cooking time may vary so it is essential to check the instruction manual of your slow cooker. This is to make sure you have a better idea of the required cooking time specific to your slow cooker.
Once the ragu is cooked, check for taste if additional salt and/or pepper are required. Skim off the oil on the surface of the ragu. Then shred the steaks using a fork and spoon. Set aside. Cook the pasta according to the packet instruction.
To serve, ladle the ragu over a bed of cooked pasta and then garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Buon appetito!