PULLED BEEF RAGU
The classic Italian pot roast brasato al Barolo turns into a magnificent meat sauce with aromatic vegetables, sweet tomatoes and wintery herbs. Yielding a triple batch of sauce, it’ll ensure that pasta night will never be the same.
You could make this rich meat sauce with other cuts of stewing beef such as brisket or shin, but you would need to braise them in a deep roasting pan to accommodate their size, then transfer the braising liquid to a pot to finish the sauce.
5 lbs (2.2 kg) boneless beef chuck (a.k.a. blade) roast
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 cups (500 mL) diced onion
2 cups (500 mL) diced carrot
1 cup (250 mL) diced celery
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped rosemary
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped thyme
1½ cups (375 mL) dry red wine
1 can (798 mL) Italian tomatoes, drained, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cups (750 mL) unsalted chicken stock
1 Preheat oven to 325°F (160°F).
2 Pat beef dry with paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Carefully transfer beef to pan. Cook beef, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. (Lower heat if beef is starting to scorch.) Transfer beef to large (5-L) Dutch oven.
3 Reduce heat on frying pan to medium and add onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to Dutch oven.
4 Add wine to frying pan and raise heat to high. Let wine boil for 2 minutes. Pour over beef. Add tomatoes, bay leaves and stock to Dutch oven. Place Dutch oven over high heat. When it comes to a boil, cover and place in oven. Cook, turning beef at halfway mark, until meat is fork-tender, 3 to 3½ hours.
5 Carefully transfer beef to baking tray to cool. Using a ladle, skim and discard as much fat as possible from braising liquid. Discard bay leaves. Remove 2 cups (500 mL) of braising liquid with vegetables, and purée in blender. Return to pot. Place pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and skimming fat, until sauce is reduced to 5 cups (1.25 L)—it should be thickened, glossy and delicious.
6 While sauce is reducing, pull beef into thick shreds with 2 forks, discarding fat and gristle. When sauce is ready, gently stir in beef. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool completely.
7 Divide between three 4-cup (1-L) containers. Cover and label with date. Refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 6 months.
Makes 9 cups (2.25 L)