One thing we love during these cooler winter months is our dual control 3 oven AGA in the Longford kitchen in Felsted. We have it on all the time and it’s so perfect for slow cooking. We’ve made this ragù recipe a lot over the winter – the recipe yields masses of delicious slow cooked beef and then we boil up a big pan of pappardelle and just stir it through. Our cabinetmakers work from 8am until 4pm and it can be a bit chilly when the goods entrances are open for deliveries so a bowl of slow cooked beef ragù and pasta always goes down well.
Our dexter beef came from Ryecroft Farm in Cotes, Leicestershire which is located in the heart of county in the Soar Valley. Mark Bowles rears his dexter herd on the 58 acre farm in the traditional way – there are no pesticides, no intensive farming methods, just naturally reared grass-fed Dexter beef. It has such a distinctive flavour and when we saw the beef shoulder (also called chuck and blade) in the box there was only one option! Below is our recipe for dexter beef ragù and although we love it with pappardelle and parmesan but it would be equally fantastic with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted veggies.
1-2 glugs of olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
200g smoked pancetta
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1kg dexter beef
1 large glass of red wine
1 tbps of flour
3 tbsp of tomato purée
200ml beef stock
2-3 bay leaves
600g pappardelle (fresh or dried)
Salt and pepper
- If you’re using a regular oven rather than an AGA, preheat it first to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2.
- Add 1-2 glugs of olive oil to a large le Creuset casserole dish and add the smoked pancetta. Fry for 5 minutes and then add the onion, celery, garlic and carrot and fry gently for 10 minutes. I used the simmering plate on the AGA – if you’re using gas or electric, then a gentle heat would be suitable.
- Move the le Creuset over to the boiling plate, push the onion, celery, garlic, carrot and pancetta to the sides and then place the meat in the middle to brown. If you prefer you can remove the onion etc using a slotted spoon and then put back once you’ve browned the meat.
- Once all the meat is nicely browned, turn the heat down (if you’re using an Aga, move the dish back to the simmering plate), add the flour and give it a good stir to coat the mixture entirely.
- Next, add the wine and let it evaporate.
- Add the beef stock and tomato purée and give the whole thing a really good stir.
- Add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
- Place in the bottom oven for 3-4 hours – for bigger cuts try and leave it for the full 4 hours. It also tastes, like so many things, absolutely fantastic the next day and it freezes so well too. We used a big shoulder joint so we shredded the beef once it was done cooking.
- Serve with freshly cooked pappardelle, fresh shavings of parmesan and some fresh basil or rosemary.