Make Ahead

Beef and Fig Ragu with Rye Breadcrumbs

November  2, 2020
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Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

This recipe takes a beef pot roast preparation I frequently cook into a rich meat sauce for a big bowl of pasta on a wintry night. I recently carried out from Central Provisions in Portland, Maine (still haven’t dined in a restaurant since the COVID pandemic, sadly) and my pork cavatelli dish was flavored with fig and Marsala wine and topped with rye and goat cheese crumble which inspired this version. Cozy up and enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Serves 4-8
Ingredients
  • Beef and Fig Ragu
  • 2.5-3 pounds Beef chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Dry Marsala wine (use decent stuff, not the “cooking wine” as this is cooked down to a prominent flavor in the dish
  • 28 ounces can tomato purée
  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 rounded tablespoons Fig jam
  • 2 tablespoons Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 1-2 pounds Rigatoni (I cook one pound and use half of the sauce, reserving the other half for future use as this freezes well; if you are serving a larger crowd cook 2 lbs pasta and combine with all the sauce in this recipe)
  • Rye breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Sourdough breadcrumbs made from day old de-crusted bread (I pulse it up to fine crumbs in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon Caraway seeds, ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Dry and season the beef evenly on each side with salt, pepper and thyme.
  2. In a large Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, brown the beef roast in olive oil over med-high for 5 minutes on the 1st side 4 minutes on the 2nd side.
  3. Deglaze the pan with Marsala wine then add tomatoes through jam. Bring to simmer then cover tightly and bake in the oven for 3 hours, checking halfway to see if it needs more liquid (you can use water, beef stock or even more wine!) and to flip the roast.
  4. Nearing end of the sauce cooking time boil water, salt liberally and cook rigatoni to al dente, about 1 min short of package directions. Save about 1c pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce at end.
  5. Remove ragu from oven after 3 hours and shred the beef in the sauce with forks - it should easily fall apart. Off of the heat add the milk and the butter and stir to incorporate. Save half the sauce for later if using 1lb pasta (can be frozen) and then add the cooked pasta to the remaining half of the sauce in the Dutch oven. Thin with pasta water as needed to help sauce coat the noodles (I used 1/2 C on my last roast which was a 2.75lb).
  6. To make the breadcrumbs, heat the oil and butter til the butter foams slightly. Add the caraway and cook about a minute, then add the bread crumbs and toast, stirring constantly, about 8 min.

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