Beef Ragu | The Great Escape

by Michael on October 28, 2012 · 19 comments

Autumn has played through the calendar for some time, nestling into the meat of the season comfortably now. And although winter’s entrance isn’t trumpeted for a couple of months, the weather outside is in the midst of a transformation. Both the temperature and seasonal characteristics alter day by day, in both frequency and ferocity. The soft muted tones of fall have disappeared, settling in for the force of nature that winter brings. Frigid, blustering evenings. The first in a series of chapters to come.

Outside the rain battles on. And so does the gelid temperature, dipping lower than the night before. The only refrain is offered by the fireplace, crackling behind me as I escape inside. The storm worsens, digs in. Wind picks up, whistling between the tall tree tops. It rages on as my mind wanders to a place in the not so distant future. Equally vexatious and requiring reprieve. Chasing comfort.

The only clemency from the biting weather in this household is comfort. A hot fire, warm blanket, a warming cocktail or deep red and comfort food. For the rest of the year I retire those recipes, but come fall through winter I dust them off again and begin anew. Deep flavours, rich sauces, meaty foods and depth that’s built over hours on the stove. And I long for hours over a stove and the impending relief it brings.

Ragu. If it isn’t the best comfort food, it certainly ranks up high. It can be paired with a variety of recipes, aside from the traditional pasta. It is proven and still the prefered method in this house, although it works wonderfully in other dishes like polenta. But time after time we stray back to pasta as the vehicle for this incredibly flavourful ragu. So we continue to make it time after time.

And with the weather storming on outside, it was the perfect chance to make the ultimate comfort food. Again. And surely a few more times through the next couple of months. Ragu, wine and the fireplace. Not a bad way to hide away the night.


Beef Ragu


  • 2 lbs. ground beef chuck
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes (700ml)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. red chilli flakes
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese, to serve
  • fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook the onions, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. In another pan over medium-high heat, add the beef  and season generously, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for another 5-7 minutes or until browned. Add the beef back to the saucepan along with tomatoes, paste, beef stock, sugar, salt and pepper, chilli, rosemary sprigs and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes or until it thickens. 
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and return to the ragu sauce.  Season to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan.
  3. Serves 4-6.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

SMITH BITES October 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

gotta say that i love days/nights like these – fireplace, wine, comfort food and the love of my life right beside me . . . sigh . . . all is right with the world . . .


Brian October 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm

It’s dishes like this that make me reconsider my vegetarianism. ;-) Looks magnificent.


Vanessa Larson October 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

This looks amazing! Yum!!


baker in disguise October 29, 2012 at 6:18 am

That was my dinner yesterday!!! I love winter.. those steaming pots of goodness and all that baking.. living in India..we look forward to winter.. after the excruciating summer and musty monsoons!!


Nicole Franzen October 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

that looks so good, want.


sippitysup October 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

I always marvel when I come here at what an artistically messy eater you are! ;-) GREG


Denise October 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Nothing like a little ragu to warm the soul and tummy. Have not made a traditional ragu in years, inclined to follow your lead.


Annalise November 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I so wish I had a big bowl of this Ragu right now as I cozy up on the couch with a blanket and some TV.


Lori @ RecipeGirl November 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I need this hearty Beef Ragu in my dinner life real soon!


Zeynep November 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I just made this today, and it was quite tasty. This might be a personal preference, but 1 tablespoon of red chili pepper was waaaaaaay too much for us. Next time I’ll stick to 1 teaspoon at the most. I would also suggest a sachet for the herbs, otherwise the rosemary leaves ended up all over the place. It took my sauce much longer than 25 minutes to reduce, more like 45-50. Thanks for the recipe, I think this is one I’ll definitely make again.


Alexa November 8, 2012 at 9:22 am

I made your recipe last night and it was fantastic!!


Michael November 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm

yay! that’s so great Alexa! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And thanks so much for taking the time to let me know. we both love that recipe and turn to it often. Cheers!


marla November 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

Stunning pasta dish ~ the perfect comfort food!


rey November 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

I love a good ragu :)


Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Your ragu looks incredible! Pure comfort, indeed.


Jessica January 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I cannot thank you enough for this recipe! We eat it at least twice a month at my house. I make it exactly like the recipe sometimes, but sometimes I use white wine and ground turkey and both ways are delicious!


Michael January 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Hi Jessica! I’m so glad your family loves it as much as we do here! And thanks for taking the time to write me. I sincerely appreciate it.


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