Hands up if you have a slow cooker! If you don’t have one, you should consider buying one for your kitchen. Someone posted on facebook very recently that Aldi stores are currently selling slow cookers – get one.
Slow cookers are great for…..you guessed it, slow cooking. It’s also perfect when you’re time poor but still want to have rich winter foods. just prep and chuck in the slow cooker in the morning, leave it cooking on it’s own for 6 to 8 hours and when you get home ,your house smells AMAZING and dinner is ready! What more could you want?
I love winter comfort eating and when I think of comfort food, I automatically think of Italian food. Italian food to me is the epitome of comfort food…..it’s like a warm hug on a plate and you feel so loved! Sometimes I wish I was Italian so I could have grown up with a stereotypical Nonna who made the best of any dish you can think of, she would pinch my cheeks, over feed me, make me take home left overs and give me lots of cuddles.
The other night, we used the trusty slow cooker to make a Beef & Mushroom Ragu to have with Papparedelle pasta. I set it on low and cooked it for 8 hours just in time for dinner. I went the extra step and reduced the ragu. I prefer to have it a little thicker when having ragu with pasta and it also makes the flavour so much more richer – yum yummo!!
I really wanted to make this with beef cheeks but sadly I couldn’t find any so I used chuck steak instead. You can use any cut of steak that is ideal for slow cooking/casseroles.
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Beef & Mushroom Ragu with Pappardelle
- 1 – 1.5 kg of chuck steak cut in large pieces
- 500g mushrooms chopped roughly
- 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 3 garlic chopped
- 2 cups of beef consomme
- 2 table spoon of tomato paste
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Sear steak with some olive oil in a large frying pan until brown all over- about 3 to 5 minutes. Place steak in the slow cooker (while it’s turned off).
- Using the same pan, sautee the onions and garlic on low heat. Season with a few cracks of salt (or a pinch). Cook until onion is transluscent.**If using chilli, cook the chilli with the onion and garlic)
- Add the flour and mix all together until combined.
- Turn the heat up a touch to medium. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.
- Pour the water, tomato paste and beef consomme and a pinch of salt and . Stir and bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Carefully pour into the slow cooker and stir carefully. Add the sprigs of thyme, pop the lid on and turn on the low setting. Cook for 8 hours.
This next bit is optional but I like my ragu a bit thicker especially when I’m having it with pasta. Plus by reducing it, the flavour pops out more and you end up with a richer sauce.
- Pour the Ragu in a large frying pan and simmer on low heat to reduce – be careful that it doesn’t burn. Stir occasionally, it took me about 10 – 15 minutes until it reached a consistency that I liked.
- When reduced, carefully pull apart the chunks of beef into strips with 2 forks – a bit tedious but worth it.
- Cook your papparedelle as per instructions on the packet or for a few minutes if you have made it from scratch.
- Drain and divide the pasta. Serve ragu on top of pasta OR you can can mix the pasta and ragu on a pan first before serving up on plates.
- Serve immediately with or without parmesan cheese.
If you have any leftovers, consider using this as a filling for a meat pie 🙂 🙂