I was disappointed in this recipe. The ragu turned out great---it tasted wonderful. It wasn't what I was imagining though. I imagined a tomato sauce with big chunks of beef--I guess more of a bolognese than a ragu. This didn't have enough tomato for my liking--it reminded me more of a beef burgundy---or just a beef in wine reduction. I'll probably make it again, I just won't think I am getting a wonderful tomato sauce from it. The other thing I may do is add a second can of crushed tomatoes and reduce the red wine to 1 c (or even just 1/2 c) to make it more of a tomato sauce.
I initially chose this recipe because it used oxtails and I had an oxtail hanging out in my freezer, just waiting to be used (the result of our split quarter of beef). The recipe called for 5 lbs of oxtails and I had a measly 4 oz, so I also added 2 lbs of stew beef. Good thing too. I couldn't end up getting any meat off the oxtail, so I decided the oxtails contribution was rich beef flavor in the broth instead of chunks of meat. I was thrilled to be able to use all my own herbs for this. I have successfully grown at the new house--oregano, thyme, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and mint have all wintered over (thus far, and I suspect we are done with the coldest weather). The bay leaves were gathered from the bay tree at our old house before we moved (and stored in my coat pocket over the summer until I found them this winter when I put my coat on). I hope to plant a bay tree at this house this spring.
I served this over gnocchi (ahh---how I love thee, gnocchi, let me count the ways). This makes 6 - 8 servings.
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 lb stew beef, fat trimmed and cut into 1" squares
all purpose flour
1/2 c olive oil
5 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, very coarsely chopped
2 c dry red wine
1 (14-oz) can crushed tomatoes with puree (in other words, don't drain the tomatoes)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 c beef broth
1 c chicken broth
Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, and then flour. Heat 2 T (or so) of oil in a large ovenproof, dutch oven over high heat. Add beef in batches and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 - 15 minutes, being careful not to overcrowd beef so it browns. Transfer cooked beef to bowl. Add celery, carrots, and onions to pot. Reduce heat to medium-high and saute until vegetables brown, about 15 minutes. Add wine and tomatoes. Boil until thickened to a chunky sauce, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in garlic.
Tie parsley, rosemary, and bay leaves with kitchen string and add to pot. Return beef to pot in a single layer (if possible). Add all broth and bring to boil. Cover pot, place in preheated 325 degrees oven. Braise stew meat until very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer meat to a baking pan or large cutting board. Using a pastry blender or potato masher (that's right, multi-tasking kitchen tools ROCK!), crust juices and vegetables in the pot to a coarse sauce. Use pastry blender to break stew meat until small chunks and add to sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over gnocchi or other desired pasta, noodles, or even rice.