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Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu: A Symphony of Flavor Unfolding in Every Bite

In the realm of comfort food, where slow-cooked goodness meets rich, savory flavors, Slow Cooker Beef Ragu stands as a masterpiece of culinary indulgence. This Italian-inspired dish takes the humble beef and transforms it into a tender, flavorful symphony, creating a ragu that’s as versatile as it is delicious. Join us on a gastronomic journey as we explore the art of crafting the perfect Slow Cooker Beef Ragu—a dish that promises to transport your taste buds to the heart of Italy.

Ingredients:

To embark on the creation of Slow Cooker Beef Ragu, gather the following ingredients:

For the Beef Ragu:

  • 2.5 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For Serving:

  • Cooked pasta, polenta, or mashed potatoes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Sear the Beef: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the beef chunks until browned on all sides. Transfer the seared beef to the slow cooker.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: In the same skillet, add chopped onions, minced garlic, diced carrots, and diced celery. Sauté until the vegetables are softened and aromatic. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
  3. Deglaze with Red Wine: Pour red wine into the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce slightly, then transfer the wine to the slow cooker.
  4. Add Tomatoes and Broth: To the slow cooker, add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper. Stir everything together to ensure even distribution of flavors.
  5. Slow Cook to Perfection: Set the slow cooker to low and let the beef ragu cook for 8-10 hours or until the meat is fork-tender and the flavors have melded into a luscious sauce.
  6. Shred the Beef: Once cooked, use two forks to shred the beef directly in the slow cooker. This allows the meat to soak up the rich sauce.
  7. Serve with Your Favorite Base: Spoon the Slow Cooker Beef Ragu over cooked pasta, polenta, or mashed potatoes. The choice of base is yours, each offering a unique pairing with the robust flavors of the ragu.
  8. Garnish and Enjoy: Finish with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil. Each bite will be a celebration of slow-cooked perfection.

Cook Notes:

  • Choosing the Right Cut: Opt for beef chuck roast for this recipe. The marbling and connective tissue in this cut break down during the slow cooking process, resulting in tender, succulent meat.
  • Wine Selection: Choose a red wine that you would enjoy drinking, as it will contribute to the depth of flavor in the ragu. A hearty red like Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon works well.
  • Thickening the Sauce: If the sauce needs thickening, you can simmer it on the stovetop for a while or use a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water) and add it to the slow cooker.

Variations:

Mushroom Medley: Enhance the ragu by adding a medley of mushrooms during the last hour of cooking. Shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms bring earthy depth to the dish.

Sun-Dried Tomato Twist: For a burst of umami, stir in a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Their concentrated flavor adds a delightful layer to the ragu.

Spicy Kick: Infuse heat by adding crushed red pepper flakes or diced fresh chili during the sautéing step. Adjust the quantity to suit your spice preference.

Keto Version:

To make a keto-friendly Slow Cooker Beef Ragu, omit the carrots and serve the ragu over cauliflower rice or spiralized zucchini. Ensure the red wine used is low in residual sugars, and enjoy a flavorful, low-carb feast.

Low-Carb Version:

For a low-carb adaptation, choose a low-carb vegetable medley instead of carrots. Additionally, reduce the amount of tomato paste used in the recipe. Serve the ragu over spaghetti squash or a bed of sautéed greens for a carb-conscious option.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu is more than a meal; it’s a celebration of the slow-cooking process and the artful combination of simple ingredients that yield extraordinary flavors. As you savor the fork-tender beef, bathed in a rich, aromatic sauce, you’ll appreciate the beauty of a dish that requires minimal effort for maximum reward. Whether enjoyed on a cozy night in or presented as the star of a gathering, this ragu captures the essence of comfort and culinary excellence. So, let the slow cooker work its magic, and relish in the symphony of flavors that is Slow Cooker Beef Ragu—a dish that proves time is the secret ingredient to extraordinary dining.

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