Simple Beef Ragu or Beef in Red Wine
I'm really not sure what to call this. I just made it on Monday and it was delicious. The closest thing I suppose would be Beef Ragu. It is basically beef cooked in red wine and port. It is one of those hearty dishes you can't wait to make when the weather starts turning cool and crisp. It wasn't actually that cold in Ventura, but the fog rolled in and that was cool enough for me. You don't need to exact measurements. Just use these as a guideline. You can do this with a lot of beef or a little beef. So whatever package of stew meat, or beef chuck you have will work. I actually think I had top round that I had purchased to make Philly Cheese Steaks and just used that. You could also use Tri-Tip. The point is, that this is something that cooks for awhile, so you want a cheaper cut of beef. Later, I'll send my short ribs recipe that has chipotle in it and orange juice like this one does. In a way my pot roast, short ribs, beef ragu, beef Bourguignonne are all fairly similar: all rich, hearty and delicious. (Later I will figure out how to adapt this for the crock pot. I think you can use all the same ingredients. Just be sure to brown the meat and caramelize onions before you add them to the crock pot. Then you'll obviously need to cook it for at least 6 hours instead of the normal
2 tablespoons olive oil
beef for stew, (1 to 2 pounds - can be any cheap cut of beef, cut into 1-inch chunks)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste, optional
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 bottle of red wine
1 cup of port
3 cups of broth (you can use beef of chicken broth or even water)
Red Pepper Flakes to taste (usually at least a half teaspoon)
1/2 cup orange juice, optional (orange and beef are GREAT together!)
5 prunes (here are the prunes again. they add depth of flavor. I love them in pot roast too!)
Salt to taste (You may or may not need it depending on how salty your broth is)
Generously season the beef with kosher salt. Heat a skillet or the bottom of a stock pot (pot you would boil pasta in or make soup in) Sear the beef in batches. If you put it all in at once it will boil/steam instead of brown. Also be sure your meat is dry before you sear it. Remove beef and add a bit more olive oil and then saute onions. I always add a pinch of salt to the onions while they are sautéing. But all of this in stock pot or crock pot or whatever you are using.
Add carrots, celery and cook for one to 2 minutes. (If you want to take the extra step to saute they carrots and celery for a few minutes with a tablespoon of tomato paste you can do that. I will add more depth of flavor, but it will still be good if you skip this step.) Add diced tomatoes, red wine, red port, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, 1/2 cup orange juice and 5 prunes.
Bring to a simmer and then turn heat to medium low. Cook over low heat for at least 2 or 3 hours hours or until beef falls apart with a fork. Add more broth if you want to make this into a soup. Otherwise, serve it over egg noodles.
PS When I made this the other night I didn't put any bay leaf or other herbs in it. Feel free to add whatever you'd like.