On Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Ragu seems like the easiest thing in the world to just throw into a pot and leave it alone right? Wrong. I have since learned that you should REALLY research any ragu recipe you find because some are going to say “simple and flavorful” and they’ll tasted like bland meat…gross. Well, as it does sometimes happen to even the best of us (or at least, I hope it does), I found a dud recipe…and I found it somewhere I wasn’t expecting, which is incredibly disappointing. True to my word, I’m not going to name or badmouth the blog I found this recipe at because that’s just not the kind of cook/blogger/person I am, BUT what I am going to do is share how I “Cooking Maggified” it.

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Now, last I checked, Ragu is a meat based sauce…and when I was making the dish I had planned on, it seemed like I was making pulled beef over a beef sauce. There was crushed tomato, and beef broth (which in my opinion doesn’t add much in terms of flavor, which is why I prefer stocks over broths for almost anything that calls for it), but no tomato paste to thicken it, there was HARDLY any seasoning, I mean, what was the deal?! I went into it skeptically, and I came out of it with my prediction confirmed. It just wasn’t where I knew it could be, so, when in doubt, improvise. I threw it all in a pot over the stove, and started to build up the flavors I felt it lacked. Onions, more garlic, a lot of pepper (and just a pinch white pepper for an added punch), more salt, oregano, parsley, basil, marjoram. I basically took this sad sauce and treated it like a shredded meat Bolognese instead of my normal dual-ground meat mixture.

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The results were FAR better than I could have hoped for, and the dish was saved and savored by all! Phew! I was for a moment worried I had just wasted 1 1/2 pounds of perfectly good flank steak! But I will say, at the end of the day, I still really prefer my Bolognese and me thinks I don’t plan to divert very far from it in the future. Why fix something that’s clearly not broke? (You don’t, silly woman!)

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But for kicks, I’ve included rough estimates for the ragu—I was panicked and didn’t think to even write down my amounts, but I added about as much as I would normally add for my bolognese anyway—and have relinked my post on my Bolognese recipe! I hope you enjoy one (or both) of these and let me know which one you prefer! I’ll also happily take suggestions on bettering the ragu recipe as it currently stands right now (a different kind of beef cut perhaps? Rump or round roast maybe?). Perhaps even a little red wine to spice things up? Another experiment for another day! – Cooking Maggie

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Bolognese [From Scratch]


Slow Cooker Flank Steak Ragu

Ingredients:

  • 6 garlic cloves, kept whole, but smashed
  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak
  • 1 28 oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbspo tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large handful of finely chopped basil (plus more for topping)
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 pinch of white pepper
  • Salt and Pepper (about 2 tsp salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper to add at the end, and extra for seasoning/rubbing the meat)
  • Pasta of choice (I used pappardelle)
  • Parmesan for topping

Instructions:

  1. Pour in everything except the beef, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir until all mixed together.
  2. Season the beef with salt & pepper, rub it in and give your meat a little massage to prep it for the slow cooking process. Transfer to a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker and nestle it in the juice until covered (you can cut the beef up if you are having trouble fitting it in).
  3. Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low or 6 hours on high. When done, discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, and shred the beef in the pot. Add salt & pepper to pot, and stir, adding more to taste.
  4. Cook the pasta of choice according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, take some of the meat sauce and add it to a pan, get it nice and hot. When pasta is done, add desired amount to the pan with the meat and stir for a good minute.**
  5. Serve with fresh basil & parm and eat!

**If you want a looser sauce, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan (you can also save all the pasta water too if you want to add water to each reheating/serving.

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