This recipe for Fettuccine in a Red Wine Ragù follows basic techniques for making beef ragù, but when combined, these techniques and ingredients create intense flavor, so it's a perfect recipe for beginners and seasoned cooks alike. If you're new to cooking and sauce-making, you might learn a couple new terms as you read this recipe.
What is ragù?
Let's start with the term "ragù". This is simply a meat-based sauce. In this case, the ragù is a beef ragù with a decent amount of red wine too.
Braised Red Wine Ragù
Many a ragù, such as this one, also qualify as a braise. I've written a recipe highlighting the technique of braising before, which you can read here. By definition, to braise means to sear or fry first, then simmer in liquid. Searing develops caramelization and flavor around the outside of the food. Simmering cooks it through and softens it, making it very tender.
When making a beef ragù with red wine, it's important that the beef sears first before adding the wine, tomatoes, and other ingredients.
After searing and caramelizing the beef and aromatics, some of this caramelization sticks to the bottom of the pan, forming a fond. Fond is pure flavor that we want to incorporate into the rest of our sauce, rather than leaving it stuck to the bottom of the pan, so we deglaze it.
Deglaze the Fond
To deglaze means to add cool liquid to a hot cooking vessel in order to get the bits of flavor off the bottom. The flavor is then transferred into the sauce. In this red wine ragù recipe, red wine acts as the deglazing liquid and canned crushed tomatoes and water act as the primary cooking liquids in which the ground meat simmers. When it's finished cooking, the beef will be so soft and luscious and infused with rich, delicious flavors.
Though the sauce simmers slowly for 2 hours, the actual hands-on cook time, most of which happens at the beginning, is much less. You won't feel like you've been cooking for hours. Plus, the resulting flavor and texture that these simple but important techniques create provide a worthwhile reward for your patience.Print
This Red Wine Ragù recipe is a classic Italian beef ragù with a wine-forward twist.
- 1 lb ground beef, 80% or 85% lean.
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2 Tb tomato paste
- 1 cup of red wine
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper for seasoning
- 2Tb Olive oil
- 1 lb long flat pasta such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, or pappardelle
- 2 large handfuls of parsley, chopped
- Grated parmesan, for serving
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place ground beef in the pot in large hand-pressed pieces, season generously with salt and pepper, and let it cook undisturbed for 1-2 minutes before stirring in order to achieve some subtle browning and beefy flavor from the very start. Then break up the meat into very small crumbly pieces and stir frequently until cooked through. Strain the beef and discard the fat, but don't wipe down the pot. Leave beef in a bowl or collander and set it aside. Return pot to the heat.
- Add the olive oil and the onions to the pot, and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Sauté onions for about 5 minutes, or until they start to soften and darken slightly. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste to coat the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomato paste deepens in color to a dark red-brown and sticks to the bottom of the pot. Add the beef back to the pot along with the wine to deglaze, scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon to help release the fond.
- Add the can of crushed tomatoes, then fill the can about ½ of the way with water, swirling it around to get all the extra tomato off the sides of the can, and add the water to the pot as well. Cover the sauce to bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours partially covered, so steam can escape. Stir the sauce a few times
over teh course of these 2 hours. Season with salt to taste at the end, after sauce has finished simmering and reducing, then stir in the chopped parsley.
- 10 minutes before your 2 hour timer sounds, heat a large pot of salted water over a high flame until boiling. The water should taste fairly salty, like the saltiness of soup, but not as salty as the ocean. Once boiling, drop the pasta into the water. When pasta is cooked to your desired doneness, turn off the heat, strain the pasta through a collander, and return pasta to the pot along with 2-3 ladles of sauce, stirring to coat. Place pasta into a large serving bowl and top with more sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan, crushed red pepper, and more parsley if you'd like.
Keywords: Red wine ragu, red wine meat sauce, beef ragu, beef and red wine ragu