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Close overhead shot of slow cooker beef ragu recipe served over pasta in a blue and white bowl
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Beef Ragu Recipe {Slow Cooker or Stovetop}

Total comfort food -- with just 10 minutes of prep! Prepare this Beef Ragu recipe in the slow cooker or on the stovetop for an Italian-inspired easy dinner!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beef ragu recipe, ragu recipe, slow cooker beef ragu
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
0 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 375kcal
Author Blair Lonergan

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ - 3 lb. chuck roast
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 3 Vidalia onions thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
  • 1 stalk celery finely diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely diced
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups red wine (such as pinot noir) for stovetop method OR ½ cup red wine for slow cooker method
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • For serving: pappardelle or other sturdy pasta

Instructions

SLOW COOKER METHOD:

  • Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Whisk together tomato paste and ½ cup red wine; transfer to slow cooker. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrot, Parmesan cheese, crushed tomatoes and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir.
  • Season beef with ¾ teaspoon salt and place in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours. You know it’s done when the beef is fall-apart tender. Discard garlic cloves and use two forks to shred the beef. Add remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt, stir, and serve over pasta.

STOVETOP METHOD:

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with ¾ teaspoon salt; brown in hot oil (about 4 minutes per side).
  • Remove meat to a platter.
  • Reduce heat to low; add onions and additional ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir frequently, scraping bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as the onions cook and caramelize for 25-30 minutes. NOTE: If you don't have the time or patience to cook the onions for this long, that's fine -- just sauté them for about 7 minutes (until tender). The caramelizing adds extra rich flavor, but it will still be delicious with a shorter time too!
  • Add garlic, carrot and celery; cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Clear space in the bottom of the pot; add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.
  • Add wine and deglaze the pot by scraping up bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Simmer for 3 minutes. Return meat to the pot; add 2 ½ cups of water, Parmesan cheese and crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to very low; cover halfway (leaving the lid ajar to let the steam escape). Simmer for about 3 hours, or until meat is fall-apart tender.
  • Discard the garlic cloves. Remove meat to a rimmed baking sheet (or cutting board) and shred with two forks. Return shredded beef to the pot, and stir in remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Serve over pasta.

Notes

  • Note the different amounts of liquid called for in the different cooking methods. The stovetop version requires water and more red wine, because you simmer with the lid ajar -- which releases steam and allows the sauce to thicken. The slow cooker, by contrast, needs the lid closed -- which means that condensation falls back into the sauce. As a result, you will omit the water and drastically reduce the amount of red wine when preparing the Crock Pot ragu.
  • This recipe calls for kosher salt. If you're using regular table salt, you will likely need to decrease the amount of salt that you add to the dish. Just taste and adjust to your liking!
  • Don't want to use red wine? You can substitute with an equal amount of beef stock.
  • If you can find San Marzano crushed tomatoes, they're the best!
  • Is Beef Ragu spicy? No, not at all! This mild sauce is incredibly kid-friendly. That said, you can easily add heat to the dish by stirring in crushed red pepper, to taste.
  • How to thicken Beef Ragu: if you find that your sauce looks too thin -- even after you have added back in the shredded beef -- you can continue to simmer the sauce without a lid until the ragu reaches the desired consistency.
  • How to freeze Beef Ragu: This sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To preserve the ragu even longer, package in an airtight container (or in a Ziploc freezer bag) and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat Beef Ragu: Thaw frozen ragu in the refrigerator overnight. Place in a saucepan, cover and cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipe based on a 2.5 lb. roast in the slow cooker | Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1350mg | Potassium: 1173mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1857IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 5mg