This beef ragu is comfort food at its best. There are so many ways to enjoy this hearty dish! Bonus points since you can prep it and set it to cook in your slow cooker, if you like!
First let’s start with this: What IS ragu? Essentially, it’s an Italian meat sauce. Ragu can be made with veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish, or poultry. In this case we’re making a beef ragu. Making ragu requires cooking ground meat, chopped vegetables, tomatoes, and red wine into a thick sauce.
Using red onion in this hearty beef ragu, rather than yellow or white onions, provides a wonderful depth of flavor.
You’ll combine the red onion along with the celery and carrots to make a soffritto.
What is soffritto?
A soffritto is a trio of aromatic vegetables that’s cooked slowly to bring out the flavors. (If you’re French, you might know it as a mirepoix.) Traditional soffritto is made with yellow onions, carrots, and celery. Chopped finely, these vegetables are sauteed and added to a wide range of recipes. You might have been adding a soffritto to your favorite recipes and not known what it was called!
In this recipe, using red onion provides a depth of flavor that complements the other ragu ingredients.
Caramelize this “Holy Trinity” of red onions, carrots, and celery to add a rich, sweet note to the hint of heat from the spicy sausage and the earthy goodness of the porcini mushrooms. The end result is a well-balanced mix of flavors that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful.
Slow cooker beef ragu
Have dinner ready to roll when you walk in the door; prep this meal in the morning and let it cook in the slow cooker while you attend to the day.
This is also a great way to have part of the meal ready to roll if you’ll be hosting guests.
- 2 T. olive oil extra virgin
- ½ red onion large, finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- ½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/3 lb. bulk spicy Italian sausage
- 1/3 lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- ½ c. dry red wine
- 1-3/4 cup Italian plum tomatoes 14.5 oz. can, undrained
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
- Liquid from reconstituting porcini mushrooms
- Reconstitute porcini mushrooms: Put the mushrooms in a bowl and add water (or broth, see note) to cover. Allow to soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove mushrooms from the water and chop. Retain liquid.
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and nicely caramelized, approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Add the chopped porcini mushrooms, sausage, and ground beef; cook until meat is browned, stirring frequently while breaking the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Carefully drain and discard any excess fat from the pot, if necessary.
- Add the wine, tomatoes, and the liquid from reconstituting the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper to the . Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to just below medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 45-50 minutes. If sauce becomes too dry, add a little water while it cooks.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
To prepare beef ragu in the slow cooker
- Transfer vegetables and browned meat to your slow cooker.
- Add the wine, tomatoes, and the liquid from reconstituting the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Place lid on slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.
reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms in beef broth. Be sure to strain the
liquid with a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any sediment before adding
to the sauce.