Slow-cooked beef brisket ragu
Serves 8 | prep 30 mins | total time
- 1.5kg beef brisket
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 15g butter
- 105g thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 250ml Italian dry white wine
- 750ml fresh beef stock (from 2 x 500ml tubs)
- 2 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes in juice
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
This can be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled. It can also be frozen.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan 150°C, gas 3. Unroll the beef brisket – if it won't fit into the base of your casserole, cut it in half. Season well; set aside to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole. Add the beef (in two batches if necessary) and brown over a fairly high heat, turning every 2-3 minutes. Set aside on a plate.
- Reduce the heat, then add the butter and remaining tablespoon of oil, if needed, to the pan and, when the butter has melted, add the pancetta and fry until it has all changed colour. Add the onion, season lightly, cover and cook for 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the carrot, celery and garlic, cover and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the wine, and let it bubble away until nearly all absorbed.
- Return the brisket to the casserole pan; add the beef stock, tomatoes, roughly broken up, oregano, bay leaves, tomato purée, caster sugar and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover with some foil and a close-fitting lid, transfer to the oven and leave to cook gently for about 3 hours until very tender. Check it after 3 hours, but don't be tempted to lift the lid before that or you will lose all that precious steam. If the meat is not tender enough, turn it over and return to the oven for 30 minutes until meltingly tender.
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven, lift the meat onto a plate and shred it using two forks, discarding any excess fat. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce left in the dish. If your sauce is too thin, simmer on top of the stove until reduced and thickened to a good consistency. Stir the meat back into the sauce and adjust the seasoning to taste. Reheat gently, and serve.
This is a wonderful way to make a beef ragu to serve with pasta, polenta or Parmesan mash. It makes a mean lasagne, too.