Winter has arrived and I can't think of anything better than having a feast on the table for everyone to enjoy. Having heard so many horror stories of multiple dinner meals being cooked to suit everyone's needs, I had to intervene. Here's to the beginning of Anca's family dinners for all! You don't need to be slaving away in the kitchen and with a few tweaks here and there you can zazzz it up or tone it down.
Ragu - (for those wondering), is simply a meat-based sauce. That's all! The key to this sauce is stewing your meat so it becomes this delicious, soft, rich (but not too rich, you're in control) sauce. It's so tasty! !
Understandably, making fresh pasta is a bit of a stretch, but don't you worry, this dish is just as good with any pasta you have in the pantry (but if you'd like the recipe for my fresh pasta, drop a comment)!
Now, the recipe below is for when you need to host a dinner, or if you feel like something a bit richer. That being said, i've put in brackets what you can use as an alternative.
600g beef cheeks, trimmed, halved (or chuck steak)
2 tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 large carrots
1 bag of fresh spinach (I like about 300-500g)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
½-1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (for a more adult based dinner)
½ bunch rosemary
½ bunch thyme
250ml dry white wine
2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes, pureed (this isn't diced, chopped, look for puree )
1/2-1 can x hot water (I simply use the old tomato can to get that left over tomato juice)
1/2 bunch basil leaves, chopped
2 Bay leaves
Lets get cooking!
- Lightly oil your meat of choice - season well, don't be shy.
- In a large pot, add some olive oil and brown your meat all over and chuck it in your slow cooker (which is set to low) when done.
- Add onion, garlic and chilli to same pan. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Stir in rosemary, thyme and wine. Simmer until wine is reduced by half, then add carrots.
- Add your pureed tomatoes! Bring to the boil and stir stir stir.
- At the sauce to the slow cooker. If the meat is covered well by the sauce then just add half a can of water. Stir the mixture to combine all those lovely flavours and get your toddler to add Anca's favourite ingredient - Bay Leaves!
- Pop that lid on, blow a kiss, put those feet up and signal hubby to wash up. Your dinner is set for tomorrow night.
- Before serving, shred the meat in the sauce, throw it in a pot to reduce until you're satisfied and whack the pasta on.
- Stir in the basil & the spinach (don't worry, it will soften).
- Serve with some parmesan cheese.
Note, this could easily be thrown together in the AM ready for the evening. I love to make this dish and eat it the night after!