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Italian Braised Beef Ragu with Parmesan Polenta
Slow-cooked braised beef in a hearty homemade Italian tomato garlic sauce on top of creamy parmesan polenta. A true comfort food!
I crave comfort food on Sundays. Growing up, we always gathered around our large dining room table and would eat a meal usually centered around a beef roast, some type of potato, vegetables, and rolls. We bantered, we laughed, we teased, and we caught up with one another. It was time to slow down and to connect with family and I loved it.
So when I think of Sundays, I think of family, church, and comfort food. I think of gathering together and food does just that — it can bring people together. So my kids get excited when they see I am cooking a roast because that means we are having a “big meal” and they love that.
My son, who is 18, and will be leaving on a church mission this summer, is my one kid who craves that family dinner time. He works most nights but always has Sundays off so it is his one day at home with the family. So I make sure to feed him well! A beef roast is always top of his favorites list.
This Italian Braised Beef Ragu is something I love to order at Italian restaurants. I started making it at home a few years ago and it is such a different and yummy way to cook a beef roast. It is tender, it is flavorful, it melts in your mouth. I am so hooked that I made it twice this week!
When you pair it with creamy polenta mixed with churned butter and nutty parmesan cheese, it is comfort food at its finest. If you are wondering what polenta is…it is cornmeal and it is cooked with some type of liquid (water, chicken broth, milk, cream) until cooked through. Then you add butter and cheese to make it extra rich and delicious.
This Italian Braised Beef Ragu is made with a lean beef roast and cooked with canned San Marzano tomatoes, fresh garlic and basil, onions, a touch of carrot, tomato paste, red chili flakes, and spices. It is cooked low and slow until it is so tender that you can easily shred it with two forks. Then you serve it with a hefty amount of grated parmesan cheese.
How to make Italian Braised Beef Ragu with Parmesan Polenta:
- Heat a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and then carefully place roast in skillet. If the oil becomes too hot, it can splatter, so be cautious. Sear on both sides for about 2-3 minutes.
Place the beef roast into the slow cooker or crockpot. Generously season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the onion, carrot, and garlic. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, basil, and red chili flakes on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8 hours. Once it is tender, shred meat with two forks. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- While meat is cooking, cook polenta 30 minutes before ready to serve. Toss with shredded beef Ragu. Serve and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
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Italian Braised Beef Ragu with Parmesan PolentaItalian Braised Beef Ragu with Parmesan Polenta Slow-cooked braised beef in a hearty homemade Italian tomato garlic sauce on top of creamy parmesan polenta. A true comfort food!
- measuring cups and spoons
- spatula set
- (1) 2.5 to 3 lb. Beef Roast (such as chuck)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- 5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
- 1 large Onion (diced)
- 1 Carrot (diced)
- (1) 28-ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes (puree in blender)
- 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Beef Broth
- 8 Fresh Basil Leaves (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
- 8 Tablespoons Salted Butter (divided)
- 1 small Onion (minced)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups Whole Milk
- 4 cups Water or Beef Broth
- 1 1/2 cups Polenta (corn grits)
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Basil
- Parmesan Cheese
Slow Braised Italian Beef Ragu:
- Heat a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and then carefully place roast on in the pan. Be cautious of splattering oil. Sear on both sides for about 2-3 minutes.
- Place the beef roast into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, basil, and red chili flakes.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred meat with two forks. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed.
- While meat is cooking, cook polenta 30 minutes before ready to serve. See below for polenta instructions. Place the parmesan polenta in a bowl and top with beef ragu and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
- Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add the milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Slowly pour the polenta into the pot, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to LOW and cover the pan.
- Simmer, stirring often every 5-10 minutes, for about 30 minutes. Watch carefully so the polenta doesn't burn. Taste to check if it is creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter. Add a small amount of cheese at a time and keep stirring. If polenta becomes too thick, add more milk. Add more salt, if needed
NotesPolenta recipe adapted from Five Mary's Ranch Cookbook
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.