Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-15I think I might be turning into a meat snob. I just don’t think meat is worth eating unless it’s juicy and tender. The biggest culprit to dry and rubbery meat is overcooking it and a meat thermometer is the simplest way to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s easy to have tender meat with nice, quality cuts of meat like the filet mignon, or a marbled steak, as long as you don’t overcook them. It is easy, but it can also take a painful bite out of your wallet. More affordable cuts of meat can be juicy too, I promise, you just have to cook them a little bit differently. Since these cuts of meat have a lot of connective tissue, they need a longer time to cook. Braising, which is cooking in a small amount of liquid, is such a wonderful technique for just such instances. A really great option is to use the slow cooker. With just a little prep, you walk away and let this magic machine do all the work for you.

I was so happy with the results of this recipe. This will be my go-to method for succulent, melt in your mouth beef from now on. You can even make a large batch and freeze part of it for an easy dinner in the future. Since I wanted as much flavor as possible in the sauce, I added tons of aromatic vegetables, which sort of melt right into the sauce as the meat cooks for hours. Not only do they flavor the meat, but they transform into a rich, velvety sauce, which is spooned over your starch of choice right along with the meat. 

Ingredients:

2 large onions, minced

1 carrot, finely grated

1 celery stalk, finely grated

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

salt, ground black pepper

1-2 teaspoons dry herb mix

Beef chuck (1 1/2 – 2 lbs)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon oil

1/4 cup dry red wine (plus 1/8 – 1/4 cup more to add at the end of cooking, optional)

1/2 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 3/4 – 2 cups beef or chicken broth

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

fresh herbs, to garnish

Instructions:

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-28Place the onions, carrot, celery and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker.

I minced the onions and garlic into tiny pieces and grated the carrot and celery on the small holes of a grater because they will almost melt into the sauce. You can also use a food processor to pulse them into a similar size. If you cut the vegetables into larger pieces, you might want to blend them in a blender after they are cooked to have a saucy consistency.  Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-27Season with salt, pepper and dry herbs. Mix to combine. Use any herbs and spices that you like.

Dry the beef  on a paper towel. Season liberally with salt, ground black pepper and ground coriander on all sides.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on high heat until shimmering. Brown the beef on both sides.

Searing the beef will add tons of flavor to this dish. In my opinion, you can’t toss in raw meat and raw vegetables into the slow cooker and expect great results. The flavor will be on the bland side. Whenever I use the slow cooker, my general rule of thumb is to sear the meat or sauté the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker.Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-26Nestle the browned beef on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.

You can also cut the meat into smaller portions, instead of keeping it in one piece. The meat will cook faster if the meat is smaller. It’s up to you. I was going for a really simple approach, so I left it in one piece. Besides, I started this dish early in the morning, which gave me plenty of time, but if you are in a time crunch, having smaller pieces of meat will shave off a few hours. 

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-23In the same skillet, add the tomato paste and flour and whisk them into the pan drippings. You will get the most use of that fond at the bottom of the skillet and add some thickness to the sauce by adding some flour. It may not look pretty, but it sure adds a lot of awesome depth of flavor. Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-25Deglaze the pan with the red wine and gradually pour in the beef or chicken broth, whisking to make it smooth. Bring to a boil and add the soy sauce. (You can also add some Worcestershire sauce).

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-24Pour it into the slow cooker on top of the beef. Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-22Cook, on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 6-9 hours, until the beef is fork tender. Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-21Take the beef out of the cooking liquid and shred with a fork into bite sized pieces. Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-20

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-19Skim excess fat off the top of the liquid and discard. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil.  Cook on high heat until the liquid is reduced and has thickened. Add 1/4 cup more red wine at the end to brighten up the flavor. Return the beef to the sauce. Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-17You can also add a splash of heavy cream, 1-2 Tablespoons of butter or a spoonful of sour cream to the sauce at the end for a creamy, velvety texture. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with noodles, pasta, rice or potatoes. 

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-15

To freeze, store the cooked beef with the sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer. Thaw and reheat to serve.

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-16

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely grated
  • 1 celery stalk, finely grated
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons dry herb mix
  • Beef chuck (1½ - 2 lbs)
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • ¼ cup dry red wine (plus ⅛ - ¼ cup more to add at the end of cooking, optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • ½ Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1¾ - 2 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • fresh herbs, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Place the onions, carrot, celery and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker. I minced the onions and garlic into tiny pieces and grated the carrot and celery on the small holes of a grater because they will almost melt into the sauce. You can also use a food processor to pulse them into a similar size. If you cut the vegetables into larger pieces, you might want to blend them in a blender after they are cooked to have a saucy consistency. Season with salt, pepper and dry herbs. Mix to combine. Use any herbs and spices that you like.
  2. Dry the beef on a paper towel. Season liberally with salt, ground black pepper and ground coriander on all sides.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet on high heat until shimmering. Brown the beef on both sides.
  4. Searing the beef will add tons of flavor to this dish. In my opinion, you can't toss in raw meat and raw vegetables into the slow cooker and expect great results. The flavor will be on the bland side. Whenever I use the slow cooker, my general rule of thumb is to sear the meat or sauté the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker.
  5. Nestle the browned beef on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.
  6. You can also cut the meat into smaller portions, instead of keeping it in one piece. The meat will cook faster if the meat is smaller.
  7. In the same skillet, add the flour and tomato paste and whisk them into the pan drippings. You will get the most use of that fond at the bottom of the skillet and add some thickness to the sauce by adding some flour. It may not look pretty, but it sure adds a lot of awesome depth of flavor.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and gradually pour in the beef or chicken broth, whisking to make it smooth. Bring to a boil and add the soy sauce. (You can also add some Worcestershire sauce).
  9. Pour it into the slow cooker on top of the beef.
  10. Cook, on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 6-9 hours, until the beef is fork tender. Take the beef out of the cooking liquid and shred with a fork into bite sized pieces.
  11. Skim excess fat off the top of the liquid and discard. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil. Cook on high heat until the liquid is reduced and has thickened. Add ¼ cup more red wine at the end to brighten up the flavor. Return the beef to the sauce. You can also add a splash of heavy cream, 1-2 Tablespoons of butter or a spoonful of sour cream to the sauce at the end for a creamy, velvety texture. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with noodles, pasta, rice or potatoes.
  12. To freeze, store the cooked beef with the sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer. Thaw and reheat to serve.

24 Comments

  • Lyuba Sten

    We are expecting a large group of people at our house this Sunday. I think I know what to make 🙂
    Thank you for this recipe!

    • olgak7

      This is perfect for a big crowd. You can even make it a day in advance and then just reheat it. I think it tastes even better. I hope you and your guests all enjoy it as much as we did, Lyuba.

      • Lyuba Sten

        Good idea! I was a little upset since the big piece of meat I bought expires the day before I needed to make it. I was planning to freeze it…now I am just going to make it and reheat it as needed. Your suggestion just about made my day 🙂

  • Anna D Kart

    Believe it or not, I was just thinking what should I do with that beef I have in freezer. Perfection!
    Love simple recipes that involve my slow cooker…

    HAPPY MEDLEY

  • olga vorobey

    We rarely cook beef in our house other than hamburgers but this looked so delicious that I ran to the store late last night to pick up some beef….Its simmering in our slow cooker as I type this…cant wait to enjoy this tonight…..Will let you know how it goes…Thanks for the recipe….God Bless the last few days of your pregnancy and Bless the birth of your little Miracle….

      • olga vorobey

        It was delicious…so tender and juicy. We had it over rice and will definitely freeze some one it for an easy dinner later….Thanks again..

  • Mila

    Olga, you are so right saying that searing the meat before putting it in the slow cooker adds a ton of flavor. I do the same with meat and vegetables. I also like to use Beurre manié (butter and flour paste) to thicken the sauce towards the end of the cooking process while it is in the slow cooker.

    Looks so flavorful and tender!

    This is a type of meat to have stashed in the freezer for when a new baby comes:)

  • Kathy M

    This is a perfect recipe for this cold weather we are having. I would like to know in a lot of your recipes, your vegetables are chopped SO fine! Do you cut them that fine with a knife, or do you use some type of blender/chopper? My cutting skills are not the best, and I can never get my veggies as fine as I see yours in the photos. I would love to know how to get them like yours.

  • Zhenya

    Olga, I have 1 hour left on this the slow cooker and cannot wait to dig in. He house smells amazing and waiting for it to get done has been a slow to torture! Lol. Will make it overnight next time!

    Also, I’ve been following your blog and your story for a while and am super excited for the new chapter in your life. I pray that things will go well with delivery–blessings to you and your family–enjoy your newborn–that stage is the best!!!

  • Brychka

    I made this already it’s so amazing! I wanted to make it again on Monday but my husband said its to fancy for a normal week day. So I am making this for us before we go to church! So it will be ready for us after we come back from the church service! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Luda

    Olga, thank you for sharing such great recipe. The ragu was sooooo tasty! And it’s healthy!
    This recipe is a great find for me! We’ve been trying to buy grass fed meat. Since it’s very expensive, to be able to afford it we’re eating very little meat and, also, I’ve been buyng inexpensive cuts. This recipe makes the modest meat taste divine!
    PS
    My meat and sauce turned out a little darker, or acturally, much darker that in your pictures. I used port wine, and port seems a little denser and stains food more – perhaps that’s why the dish was darker. Also, seems like grass-fed beef is darker that regural store bought, so perhaps that’s also contributed to the darkness. But regardless, my family enjoyed the dish so much. Thank you!!!!

    • olgak7

      There are many different kinds sold in stores. I choose not to be specific because what is available depends on what area of the world you live in. What is available in one part of the country is not available in another. You can choose whichever kind of dry herb mixture that you like. It really doesn’t make a difference, as long as you like the combination of flavors.
      I personally like the Simply Organic Grilling Chicken Seasoning. It has a combination of garlic, onion, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, black pepper, fennel, coriander and bay leaf. I use it all the time for all sorts of things – both meat and vegetables.

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