My sons are mad about pasta, and so it’s a regular on our weekly menu. I usually make a very simple tomato sauce to go with some penne or fusilli, but today I wanted to make something a little more flavoursome, so I decided to make a slow-cooked beef ragu. I have loosely used a recipe from Mario Batali (From The Food Network, not to be confused with the ex Man City player), with the main difference being that I have not used wine in my recipe.
Whilst I sometimes like to cook intricate and delicate dishes, making something tasty without too much complexity or mess is often preferable, especially when you have two young boys running around the house. I switched the cooking method for this dish to a one-pot oven roasted dish so that once the preparation is complete, I can set the timer on the oven and do something else.
As with all tomato based sauces the longer that the cooking time the more intense the flavour. This dish is probably ready within the hour, but could cook for three or four hours in the oven! I have a cast-iron Dutch oven which I use for all of my oven recipes, but any pot that can be used on the hob and the oven will work.
large glug of olive oil
1 carrot diced
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
100g pancetta diced
750g beef cut into cubes
1/2 tube tomato paste
1 cup of milk
1 carton of passata
Tesco Finest* Paccheri pasta
Parmigiano-Regganio to taste
Heat the oven to about 160 C
On the hob, gently sweat off the onions and carrots so that they are fully cooked, but not browned and then add the pancetta.
When the pancetta has some colour and is starting to turn crispy, add the beef and sear the meat well.
Once the beef is brown add the tomatoes, bay leaf, milk and about 200ml of water and season.
Cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven for around two hours.
After around two hours the sauce should be fully cooked so remove from the oven and fork the meat into smaller pieces; to a consistency a little like pulled pork or crispy duck.
When ready to serve cook the paccheri in salty water as per the cooking instruction, with a little olive oil. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan, retaining a small amount of the salty cooking liquor. Add a large spoon of the ragu to the saucepan and stir to fully coat the pasta.
Transfer to a plate and sprinkle a generous amount of Parmigiano-Regganio over the pasta.
The Tesco Finest* Authentic Italian Pasta used in this recipe was provided by Tesco as a complimentary sample. The pasta is made by the Di Martino family in Italy where they have been producing pasta in their factory in Gragnano for 100 years, and are experts at knowing how to make the best possible authentic Italian product.
I especially like the Orzo pasta which I have been using for quite a while to make a lovely rocket, Parmigiano-Regganio and olive oil salad.