Monday, March 18, 2013

Italian Beef and Vegetable Ragu with Soft Parmesan Polenta

This is one of those recipes that I cooked up in my head on the fly while trying to clean out the frig and freezer. So I tried to get all the measurements right, but please take these with a grain of proverbial salt because I don’t really measure anything when I cook on the fly and so you might want a little more or less of this or that. Tasting along the way is always encouraged! This was such an incredibly comforting dish and quite honestly, rather healthy if I say so myself. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tonight! A happy medley of tender vegetables and earthy beef bits swimming in a lightly spiced chunky tomato sauce. You could easily swap in turkey or chicken in lieu of the beef and any other vegetables you have laying around. The sauce is thick and homey and marries perfectly with Emeril’s parmesan polenta recipe, which is my go-to polenta these days. This would totally be an easy weeknight meal too. Enjoy!

Italian Beef and Vegetable Ragu with Soft Parmesan Polenta
a girl and her kitchen

1/4 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1/2 c red wine, divided
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp anchovy paste (optional)
1/3 c beef stock (or chicken stock)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted varieties)
1 14oz can crush tomatoes (I like the fire roasted varieties)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 parmesan rind

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef (or turkey), using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Season the meat with a pinch of salt and pepper and let brown about 3-5 minutes. Set meat aside leaving most of the leftover juice and fat in the pan. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan along with onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and let cook for 5 minutes until the vegetable begin to become tender. Add tomato paste, anchovy paste (if using) and 1/4 c red wine to the pan, using the wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the kale, red pepper flakes and stock and stir well to combine. Continue cooking 3 more minutes for the kale just to begin to wilt. Add the canned tomatoes, remaining 1/4 c red wine, oregano, parmesan rind and return the meat to the pan. Stir well to combine, taste for seasoning and add salt and more red pepper flakes as needed. Let simmer lightly at medium low for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Stir in butter before serving.

While the ragu is simmering, cook the polenta. I follow Emerils’ parmesan polenta recipe, which is odd because I usually don’t use many of his recipes, but this is one heck of a full proof polenta recipe and it works with instant polenta too whereby you don’t need to cook the polenta for 25 minutes, more like 5. It’s soooo good. I also used 1% milk, which worked out just fine.

To serve, place a bed of polenta in a bowl and dish spoonful’s of ragu on top. Serve with extra parmesan cheese for those cheese heads like me. Enjoy!

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