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I don’t know how many times I’ve claimed that something is the “ultimate comfort food” but this Slow Cooker Beef Ragu makes me want to take it all back. What is more comforting than tender, falling apart beef in a rich and savory tomato sauce? Nothing. (Or at least not a lot of things.) And with this recipe, the slow cooker makes that stick-to-your-ribs deliciousness nearly effortless. The only thing difficult about this is deciding what to serve it over – but when you’re choosing from polenta, mashed potatoes, or pasta there’s no way to lose.

The cast of characters is pretty simple here. There’s some aromatics that usually play a large hand in making slow-cooked things delicious (onion, carrots, celery, garlic), some fragrant herbs (oregano, bay leaves, basil), and some red wine, beef broth, and crushed tomatoes to simmer it all together. And then of course there’s the beef – this is one of my favorite ways to use a chuck roast. A cut around three pounds will work well.

You don’t have to sear or pre-cook anything, just place the roast and veggies in the slow cooker and surround it with the liquids and seasonings and set it to cook. (You might call that a “dump dinner.”) If you’re concerned about the roast cooking quickly enough, you can chop it into large chunks to help it along, but it’s not necessary.

That’s it. Your work is done. The slow cooker does the rest. It will take three to four hours on high or double that time on low for the beef to get to that perfect shreddable consistency. And don’t rush it! That tender, falling apart beef is what makes this so irresistible and the low and slow time is what captures that unctuous beefy-tomato flavor in the sauce.

For serving, I will always go for a pappardelle here as my first choice – those flat, wide noodles are a great base for the thick and chunky sauce – but your options don’t end with pasta. Beef ragu pairs just as well with polenta or mashed potatoes, but honestly, it doesn’t matter all that much… it’s the sauce that steals the show.

Serves 6

5m prep time

4h cook time

Rated 4.2 out of 5
Rated by 85 reviewers
  • 3 lb beef chuck roast
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  1. Place roast in slow cooker insert, then arrange carrots, onion, celery, and garlic around the roast.
  2. Pour red wine, broth, tomatoes, and tomato paste over the top, and add oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Season liberally with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  3. Once done, beef should shred easily with two forks. Shred meat and stir to integrate with vegetables.
  4. If a thicker sauce is desired, stir in cornstarch mixture and let cook uncovered until sauce has thickened. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Whole Kitchen Sink.

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