Beef ragu/bolognese with instructions for use with Aga range cookers

 

This rich, beef ragù is made with beef shin, an economical cut which is suited to long, slow cooking. This is the ideal dish to prepare in the morning and leave in the simmering oven to cook very slowly until the evening. The meat just falls apart when cooked and the thick, meaty sauce is the perfect partner to fresh pappardelle or soft polenta.

This focus here is on the meat rather than the tomato flavour you might expect in a classic Bolognese sauce. If you prefer a stronger tomato taste, use a whole tin of tomatoes and reduce the amount of beef stock. Recipe below picture!

Bolognese (ragu) with instructions for Aga range cookers

 

Serves 6

Ingredients...

  • olive oil
  • 1kg beef shin, cut into approximately 6 large pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 175ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp. tomato purée
  • 200ml. tinned tomatoes
  • 300ml. beef stock2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (or try 3 anchovies*)
  • Fresh papardelle (or polenta)
  • Parmesan

Right lets get cooking...

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a heavy-based casserole on the floor of the roasting oven. Brown the pieces of meat on all sides – do not overcrowd the pan -  you may need to do this in batches. Set aside. 
  2. Add a little more oil to the pan and sweat the onions, carrots and celery for several minutes until starting to soften. You can do this on the floor of the roasting oven (check and stir regularly), or on the simmering plate. 
  3. Move the casserole to the simmering plate and add the garlic – cook for a minute, stirring well to ensure it doesn’t catch. Pour in the wine and bubble for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes, stock, herbs and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and then add the browned beef. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Place a lid on the casserole dish and transfer to the floor of the simmering oven. Cook for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably longer.
  5. Half an hour before you are ready to serve, remove from oven and check the meat – it should be very tender and easy to ‘pull’ apart. Using two forks, shred the meat into the sauce. If there is a lot of liquid, you will need to reduce the sauce. To do this, remove the lid and place the dish on the floor of the roasting oven for 15-20 minutes until you have a thick, spoonable ragù. Check for seasoning.
  6. Serve with fresh pappardelle or soft polenta and a generous grating of Parmesan.

Tips for use with Aga range cookers...

  • The beef should be cooked after 4 hours, but this dish really benefits from cooking for longer. You could even make it the night before and leave to cook gently overnight.  The gentle heat of the simmering oven ensures that the ragù will not dry out.
  • When serving the dish, don’t drain your pasta too thoroughly – a little pasta water helps the sauce ‘cling’ to the pasta. Ideally, drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce – stir gently to coat the pasta with the ragù.
  • The flavours of this ragù improve with keeping – make this the day before and reheat for an easy ‘make-ahead’ meal.
  • It may sound an unlikely combination, but the addition of a few anchovies adds a fantastic ‘umamai’ depth of flavour. The anchovies break up during cooking so no one will know they are there!