Beef and Pork Ragu
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- 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1/2 onion, minced (2/3 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, diced small (1/2 cup)
- 1 stalk celery, minced (1/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can good-quality Italian tomatoes with juices, tomatoes crushed well with your hands
- 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Add half of pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with 2 more Tbsp. oil, remaining pork, and salt and pepper. Add 2 Tbsp. oil to same pot; add beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook beef, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, until nicely browned, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to sheet with pork.
Add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to same pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, carrot, celery, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until deep red and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add pork and beef with any accumulated juices; stir to evenly incorporate. Add wine; simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices; simmer until reduced and sauce is thickened, 5–7 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break up pork pieces, until meat is tender and sauce is reduced to 10 cups, 3–3 1/2 hours; uncover pot if needed during last half hour for juices to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Ragù can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Alternatively, freeze for up to 4 months.
Nutritional Content1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 360 Fat (g) 21 Saturated Fat (g) 8 Cholesterol (mg) 45 Carbohydrates (g) 10 Dietary Fiber (g) 2 Total Sugars (g) 5 Protein (g) 28 Sodium (mg) 570Reviews Section
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 ½ pounds ground pork
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- Grated Grana Padano cheese for garnish
To prepare ragù: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add beef, pork and rosemary. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Add wine and cook until it's mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and cook for 3 hours. Stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes and ensure that the ragù doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. (Makes about 10 cups.)
Meanwhile, prepare pasta: Mound flour in the center of a clean work surface and add salt. Make a well in the middle of the mound and crack eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork, gradually mixing them with the flour. When just over half the flour is incorporated, flour your hands and knead and fold in the rest. When all the flour is mixed in, continue kneading the dough until it's shiny and elastic, about 20 minutes. (Alternatively, combine flour and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Mix on medium-low speed, adding eggs one at a time and waiting until it's incorporated before adding the next one. Replace the flat beater with the dough hook. Mix on medium-low for 2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead into a ball. Return the dough to the mixer and knead until shiny and elastic, about 5 minutes.)
Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly and cut into quarters. Rewrap three of the quarters separately and, working with one quarter at a time, shape it into a rough rectangle. With the sheet roller of a pasta machine on the widest setting, feed the dough in, short-end first. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, lightly flour it and roll two more times.
Decrease the roller width by one setting and roll the dough again. Continue decreasing the roller width and passing the dough through on each setting. Flour the dough if it begins to stick. If the sheet gets too long to work with, cut it in half and work with one half at a time, rolling to the third-thickest setting.
Cut the pasta sheet in half crosswise and guide it through the thinner pasta cutter, catching the cut noodles below. Lightly flour the noodles, spin them into a bundle and rest them on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough quarters.
Right before serving, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook half the pasta for 2 minutes. Use tongs or a small strainer to transfer it to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining pasta.
Add 5 cups ragù to the pasta and toss gently to coat. Serve with Grana Padano, if desired.
To make ahead: Refrigerate ragù (Steps 1-2) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Beef Cheek Ragu Pasta (1 Recipe, 3 Ways)
Made with leftover Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Red Wine, this pasta is part of a series where leftovers are transformed into 2 sensational meals. Using leftover beef cheeks, this luscious pasta is on the table in 15 minutes.
Of the vast variety pastas in this big wide world, ragu is by far my favourite. Ragu is a meat based pasta sauce that is slow cooked so the meat is meltingly tender and the sauce is rich with a depth of flavour you can only get from cooking something long and slow. Something most people don’t have time to do midweek.
But you can get your ragu fix midweek in just 15 minutes simply by using leftover Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. The beef cheeks are so tender that they practically fall apart at a touch, so it takes seconds to shred. The pasta sauce is made using the sauce of the Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Red Wine, loosened up with some crushed tomatoes, then gentled tossed to coat spaghetti in this rich ragu sauce.
You will be surprised how far beef cheeks will stretch for this ragu. You only need about 250g – 300g/8 oz – 10oz of cooked beef cheek (about 1 1/2 cups of shredded meat) to make enough ragu to serve 4 people (generous servings). This is because this pasta is not supposed to be drowning in sauce. The pasta sauce is quite rich, so you only want it to coat the pasta, not pour over an excessive amount.So a little beef cheek goes a long way.
This is the third and last part of the Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks “One Recipe, Three Ways” series. Here’s a round up of the 3 recipes:
2. Beef Cheek, Mushroom and Vegetable Pie – using leftover beef cheeks and sauce, this is ready to pop in the oven in 15 minutes.
3. Beef Cheek Ragu Pasta (this recipe) – made with shredded leftover beef cheeks and sauce. A rich, decadent pasta on the table in 15 minutes.
Stay tuned for a new series coming up soon!
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Ragù Napoletano is one of the great dishes of Campania, and perhaps encapsulates the spirit of Italian cooking better than any other. It takes time and love to prepare, with various cuts of meat carefully prepared in different ways before cooking in a rich tomato sauce for many, many hours, kept at the perfect, barely bubbling temperature. While we might associate meat ragùs with pasta alone, this ragù is designed to provide a multi-course meal in itself, with the sauce used to dressed pasta for primo, and the meat saved for slicing and serving as your secondo.
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In its essence, Neapolitan ragù is a meat and tomato sauce cooked over a very low flame for a long time. Unlike ragù alla Bolognese, Neapolitan ragù is started without a battuto (the combination of carrot, onion and celery at the start of many Italian dishes) includes copious amounts of tomato sauce and uses whole cuts rather than chopped or ground meat.
Different schools of thought exist when it comes to the types of meat used in the ragù. As with most regional Italian dishes, there are as many recipes as there are cooks. Some use a cut of beef called locena – a steak-like cut obtained from the beef chuck. Others only use pork, in the form of bone-in chops and/or ribs. Many agree that a combination of beef and pork produces the best results in terms of texture and flavour. When using beef, the meat is often flattened, seasoned with parsley, garlic, pine nuts, raisins, and cheese, and finally rolled and tied before being added to the sauce. Either way, the sauce kicks off with a soffritto made of minced fatty meats – prosciutto and pancetta, with a little piperna (a local aromatic herb similar to thyme) for an added aromatic boost.
After all the ingredients are in, the ragù has to cook over a very low heat for many hours in order to achieve its signature texture and complexity of flavour. The sauce shouldn’t be simmering rather, it should be forming the smallest and most sporadic of bubbles – often just one lone, tiny bubble breaking the surface of the sauce every few seconds or so … not unlike an underground volcanic mud bath found in some thermal locations. (The Neapolitan term for it is peppiare.) To achieve this, first cook the sauce over a very low flame. The other way – tried and tested by many a local cook – to achieve this kind of subtle bubbling is to set the lid on top of a wooden spoon resting across the length of the pot. This way, the lid doesn’t cover the pot completely, allowing for some of the steam to escape.
The only way to tell when it’s time to turn off the heat is by using your senses – by monitoring the evolution of the sauce over time. Generally speaking, the ragù is ready when the oils and the tomato have separated and have been cooking separately for about one hour.
Because of the lengthy and somewhat laborious preparation, it could be easier to prepare the ragù a day or two ahead, then reheat it right before serving. In fact, the resting time does it some good, enabling the flavours to mingle and get acquainted, gaining in depth and complexity.
Use the sauce to season a pot of pasta (ziti or maccheroni), then serve the rest of the meat as a secondo, with some of its sauce for good measure, alongside some stir-fried greens (friarielli, to keep it traditional, or cime di rapa). Alternatively, you can use the sauce to dress a dish of lasagne di carnevale (this, as an unorthodox yet perfectly delicious replacement for the all-pork ragù it normally calls for).
Beef and Pork Ragu Recipe
This beef and pork ragu recipe is made with shredded flank steak for an irresistible beef ragu that goes perfectly on pasta or polenta!
I made my own crushed tomatoes using fresh Roma tomatoes, but you can use canned tomatoes but you may need to add a bit of sugar to the sauce as it cooks to tone down the acidity of the tomatoes.
Time to Make: About 30 hours 30 minutes
Ingredients for Beef and Pork Ragu Recipe
1 and 3/4 pound flank steak, cut into 3 pieces
1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 and 1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes (or use 3 14.5-ounce cans crushed tomatoes)
2-3 tablespoons Calabrian hot sauce, such as Mia’s, divided(or use more crushed red pepper to taste)
Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, sugar (if using canned tomatoes), to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Crush the Tomatoes (Optional):
Prepare an ice bath and set aside in the freezer until needed.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the tomatoes. Cook until the skins split. Remove the ice bath from the fridge. Using tongs, transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath.
Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle remove and discard the skins and core. Discard the water and transfer the tomatoes back to the bowl. Crush them with your hands in the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Brown the Meat:
In a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of neutral cooking oil over medium heat. Pat the flank steak dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Once the oil is very hot, add the steak and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until well-browned all over. Transfer to a plate.
Add the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the pork up with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes or until it is well-browned and cooked through. Add 1 tablespoon Calabrian hot sauce (if using) or a generous shake of crushed red pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl.
Cook the Aromatics:
Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the onion begins to brown around the edges. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds until fragrant.
Deglaze the Pot:
Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Pour in the beef stock and bring to a boil.
Cook the Beef and Pork Ragu:
Add the tomatoes, beef, and pork to the pot. Reduce heat and season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (or the remaining 1-2 tablespoons Calabrian hot sauce). Add a pinch or two of sugar if using canned tomatoes. Add the basil sprigs. If the beef isn’t quite covered with liquid, add a bit more beef stock. It doesn’t need to be swimming in liquid, but it should be mostly covered.
Simmer the ragu, covered, for 3 hours. Optionally, you can transfer to the oven, covered, at 325ºF for 3 hours.
Finish the Ragu:
Remove and discard the basil sprigs from the sauce. Transfer the flank steak pieces to a plate and shred them. Return the shredded beef to the pot. If the ragu seems like it has too much liquid, return the pot to medium heat and simmer until it is thickened to your preference. Taste and season the ragu again to your preferences before serving.
Toss cooked pasta with the ragu and serve with more ragu on top along with fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
- Stir Regularly – This helps to stop the sauce from sticking to the pan. You can also add more water if it’s starting to become too dry.
- Best Flavour – Eat this ragu the day after cooking. Serve with your favourite pasta and hot buttered bread.
- Cook the Pasta Al Dente – Cook your pasta for 1-2 minutes less than your packet directions for the perfect al dente bite!
Around 3-4 days in the fridge, if stored in a sealed, airtight container.
Yes you can! Portion out the cooked sauce to airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to three months. You can freeze cooked pasta as well, although the texture will be much better cooked fresh. Allow it to fully defrost before reheating.
In Italy it’s super popular to eat ‘nduja slathered on crusty bread, or with a slice of strong, ripe cheese.
Try it with a smear of ricotta for a spreadable condiment / ‘nduja sauce.
Pair it with scrambled eggs and fresh chives for breakfast, and sautéed it into home-fried potatoes
Use as sauce for Italian classics like pizza or lasagne.
Stuff chicken breasts with ‘nduja and cream cheese and wrap in bacon then bake.
Get creative and use it for other cuisines like tacos, quesadillas or nachos with sour cream and guacamole.
Or If you want to make more ragu but not right now – just pop any leftover ‘nduja in the freezer and thaw once you’re ready to make another batch.
Cook it for longer, or if you’re in a hurry, make a cornstarch slurry. Dissolve 1 -2 tsp of cornstarch in 2 tbsp of cold water then mix into your ragu. Viola!
I wanted the ultimate Bolognese. Six recipes later, I came up with the best ragu of them all.
Last year, my seasonal craving for ragu Bolognese — the famous long-simmered meat sauce from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region — failed to move on once the weather warmed up. Instead, it mushroomed into an obsession.
You could blame the Great Confinement and an exaggerated need for comfort foods.
But I also blame Evan Funke, the Los Angeles chef renowned for his pasta. Three months before lockdown, my son and I spent a chilly Saturday tracking down ingredients for the Bolognese in his cookbook “American Sfoglino.” First, we purchased a meat-grinder, as required by the recipe. Then, we chased down unsliced mortadella, prosciutto and pancetta, along with strutto — pork fat. The next day we made the ragu — a process so involved we had to start in the morning for the sauce to be ready for dinner. We began by cutting beef chuck, pork shoulder and the cured meats into cubes, then muscling them through our dinky, hand-cranked grinder, followed by celery, carrots and onions.
Once we had everything chopped and ground and browned and simmering on the stove (for five to seven hours!) we rolled out and cut tagliatelle by hand — leaving the pasta machine in the cupboard, as Funke has evangelized.
That night, we sat with friends around the table to enjoy what we had wrought. The ragu was so spectacularly delicious — and so rich, no one could entertain the idea of seconds.
Before Extreme Bolognese weekend, when the ragu craving struck, I’d usually improvise one, or turn to Marcella Hazan’s famous version from “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” or one of Lidia Bastianich’s three iterations in “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine.”
Now a burning (nay, simmering!) question gripped me: What is the very best Bolognese recipe of them all? I would cook my way around in search of an answer.
What defines ragu Bolognese? That depends on whether you rely on history (Pellegrino Artusi’s 1891 recipe), consult the Accademia Italiana della Cucina’s official 1982 recipe, or go by what Bologna’s famous cooking schools teach students — including Funke, who learned his ragu from Alessandra Spisni, maestra of La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese.
What the three definitions have in common is that ragu Bolognese is a simmered sauce made with ground meat, plus carrots, onion and celery (collectively known as soffritto) browned in fat, and usually broth or stock. Tomatoes were not originally included. In terms of meats, Artusi called for veal and a little pancetta, while the Accademia calls for beef and pancetta. Artusi did not specify a cooking time, but very long simmering is a requirement: The Accademia called for two hours after the meat browns many other recipes call for three hours or more.
These days, most respected versions call for ground beef and often pork, plus pancetta. All begin with some combination of olive oil, butter and/or pancetta or other pork fat. All call for soffritto and tomato, and two or three of the following: wine, stock and milk.
3¼ hours (40 minutes active)
This recipe makes enough ragù for lasagna Bolognese with enough leftovers for another night's pasta dinner. Try to purchase pancetta in a large chunk from the deli counter, and if it comes in casing-like plastic, make sure to remove and discard the wrap before use. The next best option is packaged already diced pancetta if pre-sliced is the only option, it will work, but will cost a lot more and requires less time in the food processor. We add a bit of powdered gelatin to give the ragù a rich, velvety body that otherwise would require a lengthy simmer to achieve. The finished ragù can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to three days.
Don’t trim the fat from the beef and pork. The fat makes the ragù rich and supple, and carries the flavors of the other ingredients. Don’t process the beef and pork too finely a coarse grind yields the best-textured sauce.
If you are using fresh tomatoes you will need to remove the skins (blanching), and the seeds. The finished weight, after skinning and deseeding should be around 40 ounces.
If you are using canned tomatoes use one large 28 ounce can, and one regular 14 ounce can, for total of 42 ounces… close enough.
FYI: There are lots of good brands of canned tomatoes however, if you want to spend a few more pennies, you might want to check out San Marzano, Cento, or Muir Glen.
If you want something more economical, but great tasting, check out Hunts.