Italian beef ragu richly flavoured, once prepared slow cook and leave the oven to do the hard work!
Italian beef ragu is one of those great dishes I like to cook during the colder Winter months. January like no other month in the calendar is the one where we all seek comfort and warmth from our food. Short days and slow cooked meals making the perfect the dinner. A dish that is quick to pull together then left stewing in the oven. Nothing beats coming in from the cold to a kitchen warm with the smell of cooking.
Inspired by a dish my husband and I ate on our honeymoon in Venice. We sat enjoying this dish of gnocchi on a gloriously warm day in May! The pillows of gnocchi coated rather than swimming in sauce. We were sat aside a canal in Venice enjoying a very lazy day and the most glorious bowl of gnocchi I’ve ever eaten! Soft pillows of fresh gnocchi with a light coating of ragu sauce, just enough to give you the taste, but not so much as to overload the dish. I’ve often thought of that dish and wanted to recreate it.
Can I make any substitutions to this Italian Beef recipe?
When we ate this dish in Venice, they used lamb as the base meat. I’ve used beef as that’s what my family like to eat. However, this recipe works equally well with either beef or lamb. Beef brisket has been used for this Italian beef ragu dish, however, you can substitute with any other cuts that are suitable for slow braising. Shoulder, chuck, rib trim would all work in this dish.
The mushrooms used in this Italian beef stew add a lovely depth of flavour to the finished sauce. That said my family complain, they don’t really like mushrooms. Now you can leave them out. However, what I would recommend instead, is to leave them in but cut them chunky. That way if anyone doesn’t want to eat them they are easily picked out!
Do I have to have this dish with gnocchi?
The simple answer is no you don’t. Whilst this dish goes very well with gnocchi, it works equally well with some pasta. However, it is essentially a stew, therefore if you want to serve it alongside some steamed vegetables and saute potatoes, that would work very well too.
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Italian Beef Ragu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200 g pancetta - diced
- 2 large onions - sliced
- 2 carrots - sliced
- 2 sticks celery - sliced
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- 5 chestnut mushrooms - sliced
- 200 ml white wine
- large bunch flat leaf parsley - chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 dsp dried oregano
- 750 g beef brisket - or similar cut for slow braising
- 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
- 200 ml beef stock
- salt & pepper
- Heat the olive oil, over a medium heat, in a large oven proof casserole and add the diced pancetta and saute until crispy.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and sauté gently for 5 minutes to soften, but not colour.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and stir for a minute, before adding the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add in all the remaining ingredients to the casserole, season well with salt and pepper, stir well to combine and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Place the casserole in a preheated oven at 140CFan and cook for 4-5 hours. Stir the ragu throughout the cook to ensure it does not stick. The stew is cooked when the meat is tender and falling apart.
- Delicious served with gnocchi, you want the ragu to coat the pillows of gnocchi, rather than sitting in large chunks on top.
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