Is there any thing more comforting than a great big bowl of pasta, covered in a delicious sauce. I think not. I mean it's like a great big cuddle in a bowl. This one is definitely a family favourite & not just with the kids. All of us end up having seconds ...sometimes thirds! Beef / Ox cheek adds that extra bit of indulgence and if you've never tried it I urge you to, but you'll probably never go back to doing anything else!
It has to be cooked long and slow to get that fall apart texture. but the great thing is other than the occasional check up and stir you can pretty much leave it to do its thing. I also pack my ragu out with plenty of veg for the small people. But feel free to adapt this however you choose. Try to get the best quality tomatoes and tinned / passatta you can as I think this makes a difference. The Porcini also add the most delicious deep flavour to this so please don't skip this step.
Feeds 4 with plenty left over
1 beef / ox cheek aprox 320g
handful of flour
1 brown onion diced
12 cherry / san mazano tomatoes halved
1 celery stick diced
1 large leek finely chopped
1 large carrot grated
1 courgette finely chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 sprigs rosemary chopped
65g smoked pancetta
1 tin chopped tomatoes or passatta (pref Mutti)
25g dried porcini mushrooms
2 Knorr beef jelly stock cubes
Splash of milk
Chop the onion, leek, carrot, celery cherry tomatoes and courgette and add to an oven proof dish with the halved tomatoes, On the hob. Sweat them all down with a splash of olive oil and a grind of pepper and salt, without really colouring, which will take about 15 mins or so. Cover the porcini in boiling water to re hydrate and leave.
While thats sweating chop the beef cheek into about 6 or 7 big chunks and coat in the flour.
fry this off in a separate pan until brown and sealed then remove and set aside. add the pancetta to the pan and cook until crisp.
Once the veg has softened, add the rosemary, chopped tinned tomatoes or the passata, along with the chopped garlic and 2 stock cubes. Drain the porcini (watch out for the grit at the bottom) and chop them, then add them to the pot, along with some of the soaking water. Finally add the beef and the pancetta, along with a good splash of milk and give it all a good stir and make sure the sauce covers the beef.
Put the lid on and place in an oven at about 170 for 4 hours. Let the Magic happen.
You will probably want to give it a check every hour or so and give it a stir to make sure nothing is catching on the bottom. Add a touch of milk or water if it's looking a little thick, and check nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After 4 hours break the beef apart with a couple of forks and stir into the sauce. you'll have a thick gorgeous ragu ready to go! Serve with your pasta of choice (always adding it to the sauce!) and a healthy grating of Parmasan.