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#CookClub recipe No. 5: Slow Cooker Beef Ragout

This week's #CookClub recipe is Slow Cooker Beef Ragout.

First, let's talk about the name. "Ragout" is a French beef stew, but it's pronounced like the Italian meat sauce ragu. Similar ingredients are in both (onion, ground meat, tomato, red wine), but the result is vastly different. Ragu is normally served on pasta; ragout can be eaten with noodles or another starch, but it stands up fine on its own, too.

I've gotten a few requests from the #CookClub crowd to try a slow cooker recipe. I will admit that I am not in love with my slow cooker, because I find things tend to turn out the same. I use it for big pieces of meat that need long, slow cooking and occasionally chili. That's about it.

Part of my issue with the slow cooker is that I want something that can cook for nine or more hours, because that's at least how long I am at work. Not all recipes need that amount of time. Some are ready in just four.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragout simmers on low for seven hours and then another 45 minutes on high so that the zucchini and mushrooms added at the end don't cook to a pulp. I like that, because part of my dislike of slow-cooked food is that the ingredients are indistinguishable from each other.

I used a decent quality old-vine zinfandel and added a bit more meat. The finished dish was a hearty supper perfect for chillier weather. I am eager to hear how you'll make the recipe your own, because I know you will!

If you're participating in our online #CookClub, the key is to remember #CookClub because that's how you'll want to tag everything. You'll have two weekends to make the recipe and post a photo on Instagram with your comments. Photos and comments for the Beef Ragout are due by 6 p.m. Nov. 17. Some of the photos and comments will be printed in the Times food section on Nov. 20.

As part of the #CookClub conversation, join us from 7 to 8 p.m. every Thursday for a #CookClub chat on Twitter. On Thursday, we'll be talking about the results of our last recipe, Butternut Squash Pasta Casserole with Gruyere and Pecans.

It's been fun to see the different results through photos on Instagram and read comments from #CookClub. There's always someone going rogue!

Questions? Direct them to @roadeats on Twitter and tag them #CookClub or email to jkeeler@tampabay.com.

MODERATE

Slow Cooker Beef Ragout

Deadline for photos and comments on Instagram is 6 p.m. Nov. 17. Tag them #CookClub.

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided use

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided use

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds lean beef stew meat or beef cross rib roast, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks and blotted dry

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-sized onions, coarsely chopped

1 (14.5 ounces) can of diced tomatoes with juice

1 cup dry red wine, such as zinfandel

1 cup baby carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

2 medium-size zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons

8 ounces fresh mushrooms thickly sliced

Place flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in plastic bag. Add meat in batches to coat, shaking off excess flour.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of oil until very hot. Add half of the beef and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and brown remaining beef.

Add the onions to the skillet and brown slightly over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil, scraping up an browned bits stuck to the pan; pour into the cooker. Add the carrots, garlic and Italian herbs to the cover. Cook and cover on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Add the remaining salt, pepper, zucchini and mushrooms, cover, turn the cooker to high and cook for about 45 minutes, until the meat, mushrooms, and zucchini are tender. Serve in shallow bowls or on rimmed dinner plates with wide egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Serves 4 to 5.

Source: Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann (Harvard Common Press, 2005)

#CookClub recipe No. 5: Slow Cooker Beef Ragout 11/04/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 4, 2013 1:44pm]
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