Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu
We cleaned out our indoor freezer last weekend, and lo and behold we found a package of meaty soup bones from our 2014 cow. Not to be wasteful, I knew I had to cook those babies low and slow, to extract all the flavor from the bones and preserve any shred of tasty beef hiding amongst the gristle and bone. Yep, I can do this!
Nice Meaty Soup Bones
I had President’s Day off work, and knew I’d be a happy camper just spending the day putzing around the kitchen and cooking, all thoughts of laundry and house chores away from my mind — already completed over the weekend.
This was also a good chance to use up some dried Porcini mushrooms that had been languishing in my bin of assorted bulk spices and what-nots. I looked at the package, fearing they were long expired. Apparently dried mushrooms last a LONG time, as the expiration date was more than a year in the future! Combined with some also-languishing Cremini mushrooms in the fridge, I knew I had the base for a slow-cooked braised ragu. Combine that with some good-quality tomatoes and hearty Pappardelle pasta, and voila! Ragu is served. With lots of fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, of course.
Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu Pappardelle
.25 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms
2 to 3 ounces Cremini mushrooms
2 meaty beef soup bones
Ground pepper and salt, to taste, for seasoning beef
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion
8 to 10 baby carrots
1 rib celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 strips of cooked bacon (can also be uncooked)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Up to 1 cup good-quality red wine, divided
Mushroom stock (from soaking the Porcini)
Up to 2 cups beef stock, divided
28-ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
8 ounces Pappardelle pasta
Good quality Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Additional chopped parsley, for garnish
Soaking the Porcini
Place dried Porcini mushrooms in a glass bowl (I used a Pyrex measuring cup) and pour about a cup of boiling water over them. Top with a folded paper towel to keep mushrooms submerged. (I learned that cool tip from the package of mushrooms!) Allow them to rehydrate for about 20 minutes. Discard paper towel and remove mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid from them. Strain the mushroom stock through a coffee filter into another cup. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place a Dutch oven or other pot with an oven-proof lid on stove over medium high heat. Season the soup bones liberally with ground pepper and some salt, to taste. Dredge soup bones through the flour, patting flour in to coat.
Browning the Soup Bones
Add oil and the bones to the pot, browning on each side for about 4 minutes. Don’t forget the sides! Turn off heat, remove bones and set aside.
Chopped Veggies and Bacon
Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bacon to a food processor (you can also mince these by hand). Pulse until finely chopped.
Next, finely chop the Porcini and Cremini mushrooms.
Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms
Turn heat back on under the pot, and check for amount of oil. Add additional if needed, you’ll want about a tablespoon. Add the vegetable mixture, mushrooms, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. In the last minute or so, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Cooking the Veggies and Bacon
Next, stir in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup wine, mixing until completely combined. Stir and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Reducing the Wine
Pour in the reserved mushroom stock and about a half cup of the beef stock. Add the can of peeled tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Also pour in the liquid from the can. Stir until combined, then submerge the soup bones into the sauce. Bring up to a simmer, toss in the three sprigs of thyme and cover tightly. Place in preheated oven.
Tomato Sauce and Soup Bones Ready to Braise
Cook for three hours, or until meat is tender and falling off the bones. Once tender, remove pot from oven. Remove soup bones to a plate and let cool for about 10 minutes or safe enough to handle.
Shredded Braised Beef
The sauce will have thickened by this time. Stir in up to another cup of beef broth and red wine and bring up to a slow simmer on the stove.
Meanwhile, cook the Pappardelle pasta according to package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining.
Once the beef is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers, discarding any gristle/cartilage.
Beef and Mushroom Ragu
Return the shredded beef to the sauce and stir in the chopped parsley. Pour in a small amount of pasta water to further loosen up the sauce. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Plate the cooked and drained pasta on a platter, then pour the ragu sauce over top. Grate a generous amount of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley. Serve on plates or in bowls.
Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu
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