Meet my friend the Slow Cooker
I’ve had this blog post on the go for a few weeks now, but because such awesome sweet recipes kept popping up and I felt they needed to be shared post-haste, this recipe was put on the back burner. OK, so back to my obsession with slow cooking. Before I bought my slow cooker (I do believe they are sometimes called crock pots), I did my slow cooking on the stove. I’d chuck my large stock pot on the stove top, turn the heat on low, and let things cook over a low flame for hours. I’d get great results and a wonderful meal at the end, but I couldn’t leave the house for the duration of cooking time. This also goes with slow cooking using the oven. The idea of leaving the house whilst the oven is on freaks me out. As much as I love food, life does go on and I have things I need to achieve! That’s when I decided to get myself a slow cooker. At the time I decided to buy one, Target was having a sale on kitchen stuff so I wandered down to my closest store to have a squiz. When I got down there, the planets seemed to have aligned in my favour because I managed to find a slow cooker that was on sale. In fact, it was 50% off the normal price! So, I quickly lugged it to the front counter to pay for it, and the rest was history. Every winter, the slow cooker is my best friend. All you need to do is prepare your ingredients, chuck it all in the slow cooker, turn it on and go about your day with not a care in the World. One of my favourite dishes to make with my slow cooker is chunky meaty pasta sauce like a ragu. The chunks of meat just fall apart and melt in your mouth, and it’s guaranteed that you will have leftovers to freeze for later (always a good thing for a Uni bum). The slow cooker is a definite ‘must buy’ kitchen appliance for winter cooking! The ragu recipe I’m going to share with you today can serve 6.
Slow cooker beef ragu with penne
½ cup (75g) plain flour
1.2kg gravy beef, trimmed, cut into 4cm pieces
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
200g button mushrooms, quartered
1 mini bottle of red wine (I used a 187ml bottle of Cabernet)
700g bottle passata
2½ cups (625ml) beef stock
2 tsp dried rosemary
375g dried penne pasta
Finely grated parmesan, to serve
Place flour on a plate. Toss beef in the flour to coat in batches. Shake off excess flour. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, turning, in 2 batches for 10 minutes or until brown on all sides. Chuck the cooked beef into the slow cooker.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot and onion. Stir for 2 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Add mushrooms, and stir for a minute or until just soft. Pour in the wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to loosen the crusty bits that have cooked onto the base of the frying pan (this is caramelised flavour from the beef and veggies). Add everything from the frying pan into the slow cooker.
Stir in the passata, stock and rosemary. Cook, covered, on high for 4 hours or until the beef is tender, then take the lid off and cook for a further 30 minutes. In the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions. To serve, spoon the ragu over the penne and sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top. Buon appetito!
Note: I’ve only made minor amendments to the original recipe. If you would like to see the original recipe, click here. This ragu is SENSATIONAL the next day. The flavours are intensified when you slow cook, but they are intensified even further when left overnight. YUMMO!