Friday, February 5, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu and Pasta

You will love this hearty pasta dish with tender pieces of beef in a spicy ragu sauce.  The best part, most of the cooking is done in your slow cooker!

This pasta is going to make your meat eaters very happy. My son and husband (our resident carnivores) fell in love with this pasta dish and they ate it for two consecutive meals happily.  This ragu is not just for the hungry men in your house, my daughter and I were also thrilled with how hearty this pasta turned out.
I usually make my ragu dishes with ground meat for quick cooking.  I never use pieces of beef because it needs to be cooked low and slow for a long time to really become tender and delicious.  Since I don't like leaving my stove on for hours unattended, I love the slow cooker because you can set it and forget it.  Then all I had to do was precook my pasta and toss in the Parmesan cheese before serving.

Now I have to admit that I did do a little work before placing the ingredients in the slow cooker.  I first browned the beef to really deepen the flavor.  I also sauteed the veggies before adding it into the slow cooker.

I also precooked the pasta before tossing it with the sauce. Now I didn't cook the pasta all the way, just up to 60-70%.  That way there was some cooking time in the slow cooker so the pasta had time to absorb all those flavors.

I then serve this yummy pasta with a green salad and garlic bread.  It was a meal that my family truly enjoyed.  They are already asking me when I'm going to make this again.   

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu and Pasta
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

2 1/2 pounds of beef chuck cut into bite size pieces
1 (28oz) can of whole tomatoes coarsely crushed with juice
salt and black pepper as needed throughout dish
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1-2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
1 Tbs granulated garlic
1 Tbs dried basil 
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
red chili flakes to taste
1 Tbs white or brown sugar
1/2 Tbs onion powder 
2 cups of jarred pasta sauce 
1 (16oz) box tube style pasta cooked 60-70% of the way and drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Place canned whole tomatoes into slow cooker and turn on high.  Crush tomatoes either by hand before placing into slow cooker or with a potato masher. While the tomatoes heat up, proceed browning beef and sauteing veggies. 

Cut beef into bite size pieces then season with some salt and black pepper.  Heat 2 Tbs canola oil on high heat and brown beef well. Transfer browned beef into slow cooker.    Then in the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the finely chopped carrots, celery, jalapeno and onion.  Season with a little salt and black pepper and when the veggies have softened a bit, add into slow cooker.

Note: Place lid on slow cooker between adding ingredients to keep the slow cooker pot hot. 

Then add the red chili flakes, dried oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder, dried basil, some salt, black pepper, and sugar.  Top with two cups of jarred spaghetti sauce. Stir all ingredients well and place lid on slow cooker then cook for 3 1/2 hours. Taste sauce and meat to see if there is enough salt and seasoning. Adjust as needed.

To cook the pasta:  Start to cook the pasta at the 3 hour mark of cooking.  Cook pasta in well salted water.  I like using large tubular pasta like rigatoni.  Cook pasta 60-70% of the way.   Drain pasta and toss with ragu in slow cooker.  Cook for another 1/2 hour or until pasta is cooked to your taste.  Finally add the Parmesan cheese, toss and serve.  Enjoy.

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