This recipe holds a space close to my heart. Growing up, our Sundays consisted of a family lunch at my Nona’s always involving a pasta dish – her beef ragu was one of my favourites! This dish uses her fundamental sauce secrets with the added flavours of slow cooked beef, eggplant & crunch of garlic panko crumbs to top! I have even included my Nonno’s favourite wine to add depth to the flavours.
800g Beef Cheeks or Chuck Steak in large cubes about a golf ball size, always ask for the softest cut
1 finely diced large brown onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
Mutti Tomato Paste high concentrate tube
Mutti Tomato Passata Tomato Puree
1 cup McGuigan Black Label Red (however, any red will do!)
1/3 cup Parsley finely diced
1 tbsp Dried Oregano Flakes
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
2 cups Beef Stock
1 tsp raw sugar
1 cup Panko Crumbs
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pat beef dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat 2tsp of olive oil over high heat. Add beef and sear each side until very browned (3-5 minutes in total), then remove and set aside. Make sure to cook in batches.
Turn stove down to medium low heat and add 2tbsp of olive oil.
Add 1 finely diced brown onion and crushed garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add passata, tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, chilli flakes, wine, beef stock, 1 tsp sugar and stir. Bring to boil and then lower to a simmer.
Return the beef to the pot, including the pooled juices. Continue to cook on low heat so it’s bubbling gently. Cover and leave to cook for 3 hours on low or until beef is tender enough to shred. Keep watch and add hot boiling water if needed.
Remove beef and shred with two forks, then return back to the pot and continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes on low. Again, keeping watching and adding either hot boiling water or warm beef stock to the sauce. (Option to add eggplant steps in here – ensuring the eggplant has time to soak in the delicious sauce!).
Final taste test!! Add more salt, pepper, chilli or sugar to taste (if it tastes sour).
Preheat oven at 180C.
Dice eggplant and place on a tray covering in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until roasted (20mins) then add and stir through ragu.
Bring a very large pot of water to boil.
Add pasta and a generous amount of salt for taste. Cook for 4 minutes making sure pasta is still slightly al dente.
Add pasta to the ragu and stir through!
Panko crumb topping:
Heat a small pan on medium to high and add 1tsp olive oil, 1 cup of panko crumbs, 1 crushed garlic clove, and parsley. Stir till crumbs are golden brown.
Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley!
Enjoy with loved ones! Bon Appetit!!
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