Pot roasting our chuck on the bone creates a meltingly tender ragu with a delicious sweetness. The dish is best made a day ahead to allow flavours to meld and develop.  Serve ladled over pasta or a mountain of creamy polenta, to feed the masses for rustic entertaining. Alternatively, portion the ragu into containers to freeze for easy mid week dinners. 

makes about 2 litres, enough to serve 8-10 adults

6 sprigs of thyme 

6 stalks of parsley with leaves

2 bay leaves

¼ cup olive oil

2.5kg chuck on the bone, removed from fridge for 30 minutes before cooking

1 tablespoon plain flour

2 onions, finely sliced

1 bunch Dutch carrots, diced

5 stalks celery, diced

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

375ml (1½ cups) red wine

500ml (2 cups) beef stock

1kg ripe field tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 2 x 400g can crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 140°C (160°C fan-forced).  Tie the thyme, parsley and bay leaves in a bundle with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni and set aside. 

Heat oil in a heavy based large cast iron pot over a medium-high heat. Add beef and cook both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.  Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium and add the onion to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.  Stir in the celery, carrots and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables have softened, are lightly golden and starting to caramelize. 

Return meat to the pot.   Add the wine, bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by half.  Add the stock, tomatoes, bouquet garni, salt and pepper.  Increase heat and bring to a boil then remove from heat.  Cover surface with a piece of baking paper and a tight fitting lid.  Transfer pot to the preheated oven.  Bake for 2½ hours, remove from oven and turn meat over. Cover with lid and return pot to the oven to bake a further 1 to 1½ hours until the meat is very tender and pulls apart easily using two forks.  Transfer meat onto a large plate or bowl and using two forks pull meat away from the bone and shred into small pieces.  Discard the bones and fat and return the meat to the sauce. Remove bouquet garni and discard. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. 

If using sauce the next day, transfer into a large bowl, cover and  refrigerate overnight.  Before reheating the sauce skim off any solidified fat and discard.  While pasta is cooking (directions below) reheat the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through.  Add some of the pasta cooking water if needed, to thin the sauce a little.

If serving with pappardelle, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, al dente about 10 minutes.  Drain and toss with the sauce.  Serve immediately with grated parmesan.

Tips:  For a little extra oomph and pizazz add ½ cup Ligurian olives, ⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley and finely grated zest of an orange to the sauce when heating through to serve.

Fiona Hammond © April 2018 

Recipe, photos and styling by Fiona Hammond.


Mark Brancatisano