NOTHING is more comforting on a cold winter night than beef ragu that is slow cooked with vegetables and shiitake mushrooms. Make this ragu, let it cook a good part of the day and serve it over pasta or gnocchi. No one will be able to resist!! This recipes makes enough to feed a crowd, but also freezes very well.
1 oz dried shittake mushrooms (use any dried mushrooms you prefer), rehydrated and broth reserved
3/12 pounds beef chuck roast (boneless), cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 T evoo, separated
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
6 T tomato paste
2 cups full bodied red wine (I prefer Cabernet)
2 cups beef broth
1 cup mushroom broth from re-hydrating mushrooms (substitute beef broth if you wish)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
pinch of sugar (optional)
Reconstitute dried mushrooms by covering in 2 cups of boiling water. Let the mushrooms sit for at least 30 minutes. Drain and RESERVE 1 CUP of the broth, set aside. Slice mushrooms.
Pat the beef dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 3 T of evoo in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn down the heat to medium low and add remaining 3 T of evoo. Saute garlic, onions, carrots, celery and (reserved) sliced mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the remaining ingredients and reserved beef with juices. Bring mixture to a low boil, turn down to low simmer, cover and cook about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the beef and coarsely shred with 2 forks. Return beef to pot, simmer an additional 30 minutes until sauce is reduced by 1/2 and thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper and pinch of sugar (optional, as needed). Serve ragu over your favorite pasta, polenta or gnocchi. Cheers!!
Pair this rich meaty sauce with an Italian Barbera wine which is produced from a Northern Italian grape that tends to have happy cherry fruit and tart acidity that’s great with rich sauces. Look for bottles from Vietti or Cavallotto (http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/3-best-wines-pair-pasta-bolognese).
This recipe improves over time so make a day or two in advance. To freeze, place in zip-loc bags and lay flat to freeze.