Braised Beef Ragu in Two Courses

Braised BeefWhat I love about this dish is that it can be served in two courses. For the first course, toss the pasta with hot sauce and top with cheese. For the second course, serve the beef with your favorite vegetables. I like green beans, eggplant, or roasted potatoes.

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 pounds beef chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ounce slice pancetta, diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 pound pasta, penne or rigatoni
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Pour 4 cups boiling water over the mushroom and let sit until the water is cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown the meat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized on both sides, 20 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the pancetta to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until light golden, 10 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, 15 minutes. Strain the porcini and reserve the liquid. Add the revived porcini mushrooms and the garlic to the pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the tomato paste, sugar, porcini soaking liquid and tomatoes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomato mixture and add the meat back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. To see if the meat is tender, insert a knife into the center of the meat. There should be no resistance. If the sauce thickens too much, add water.

Remove the meat from the pan and cover with foil. Purée the sauce in a blender or a food mill until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For the first course, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until tender. Toss the pasta with as much sauce as needed. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

For the main course, slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Serves 6

Wine Suggestion: Chianti, Barolo, Barbera, or Dolcetto