Fun with Food: Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu

Last week, two of my oldest and dearest friends came round for dinner; one of them lives out of town, and we don’t get to see her often, and it was wonderful to chat over dinner while our children played (mostly)nicely in the lounge.

I knew that this dish would be wolfed down by my boys, and assumed that the other two kiddies would also eat it – most kids like pasta and meat sauce, right?? I wanted something I didn’t have to stress over, something that could languish in the slow cooker all day and be dished up once the fresh pasta had been briefly cooked.

Standard ragus are lovely, but slow cooking the beef mince takes it to a whole new level. The meat breaks down so much more, and the texture is smooth and….delicious.

IMG_2998

Hmmm, it would seem that it’s difficult to take an attractive photo of ragu without pasta!

You could add in a finely chopped carrot or sliced mushrooms if you want to up the vege factor. Also, ours is a 6.5L cooker; I think standard is a 4.5L cooker, so you might need to add a little extra liquid if you have a smaller cooker.

Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu – Serves 4-6

450g beef mince (I used the leanest mince we can buy at the local supermarket)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, finely chopped
400g tinned tomatoes (I used crushed and sieved as I don’t like big chunks, but use whatever you like)
few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 T dried or fresh oregano
2 T tomato paste
1 beef stock cube
1-2 t sugar
salt and pepper

Combine everything in your slow cooker, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon or your fingers. Cook on HIGH for five hours, or LOW all day.

Serve over freshly cooked tagliatelle or fettucine and top with parmesan cheese.

For smaller slow cookers, you could add 250ml of water if it starts to look dry.

IMG_2991I doubled the recipe so I could take a meal’s worth (and a few little packages of cheese rolls) to a lovely lady expecting her third little one; this dish will freeze really well, and re-heat beautifully, so makes an ideal new mama gift.

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Fun with Food
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