My earliest memories of a meat ragu-like dish were of my aunt Olga's meaty gravy, with big chunks of melt-in-your-mouth meat that we would top a helping of mashed potatoes with. I remember this being one of my favorites, something I would always look forward to on holidays spent in her home (and I still do!). But mostly I remember wondering at how she was able to make this meat so deliciously tender. Fast forward and in my own kitchen, I finally learned the trick. Which, really, is no trick at all. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Now, I know this may not be a race, but when you make a base of deep flavor, throw in beautifully seared meat and let the two simmer together for a couple of hours... something wonderful happens. As with practically everything I share, the flavors can be adjusted to your own liking. I happened to have some canned cranberry sauce from the recent holidays so I decided to add that to this ragu's story. Thankfully, it worked! I hope you give this recipe a try, and enjoy!
Cranberry Beef Ragu
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup cranberry sauce
Approx. 1/4 cup olive or grape seed oil
6-9 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked (or regular) paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon Original Mrs. Dash
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 - 2 cups beef stock
chopped parsley, for topping
1. In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add cubed beef meat to sear. Do not overcrowd pan; this will steam the meat instead of sear (work in batches, adding more oil as needed). Put meat aside in separate plate to rest.
2. Without cleaning the pot, add 4 tablespoons oil and the chopped onion. Stir often, cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes on medium heat.
3. Add all the spices, 6-9 minced garlic cloves and 1 cup cranberry sauce, mix well and cook for about 4 - 5 minutes.
4. Add all the meat with the juices gathered at the bottom of the plate where it rested. Mix well and let cook another 2 minutes, then add 1 1/2 cup beef broth. Let it come to a boil, then bring the heat down to low and close the lid to the pot. Let simmer on low for approximately 2 hours (until meat is fork tender and is falling apart). Serve on rice, mashed potato or pasta and top with parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Note: Watch the meat throughout cooking period; if liquid evaporates too quickly, add in more beef broth. The end result should be like a sauce, not like a soup.