I LOVE entertaining! I love bringing different groups of people together. I love feeding a whole big bunch of people and making them happy. This amazing Spicy Beef Ragout is the perfect dish to warm the soul. Hearty and so very good, make it now. You will be delighted. I bought nearly 3.4 pounds of meat and trimmed most of the fat, to end up with at least 3 pounds. This makes for a really healthy dish as even after refrigeration, there was no fat to skim off. The thyme especially brings some deep flavors out. Fun fact about thyme, apparently it was used as a sleep aid in the Middle Ages! I know my guests had great dreams after they ate this meal so maybe it is true 😉


I made this on a Sunday to serve on Thursday. Letting it sit in the fridge to “mature” is the very best thing to do. Plus it makes for an easy dinner the night you are serving it!

SPICY BEEF RAGOUT – serves 6 – 8

13 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on noodles
Fresh ground black pepper
7 sprigs fresh thyme
3 lbs. trimmed beef chuck cut in 2” chunks
½ of a large fennel bulb, chopped
1 cup finely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. flour
15 large Sicilian green olives, pitted and chopped
3/4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 cups robust red wine
½ cup beef stock
3 branches fresh rosemary, each about 7” long
2 small fresh bay leaves
1 lb. egg noodles
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Spicy Beef Ragout - tomatoes on the pan.


Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pile tomatoes on top, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Add leaves from 4 branches of the thyme, toss again, then spread the tomatoes in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet, skin side down. Set aside.


Spicy Beef Ragout - browned meat.


Heat remaining oil in an ovenproof casserole on medium high. Dry meat, season with salt and pepper and sear in several batches to avoid crowding until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Lower heat to medium low. Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Add fennel, leeks, shallot and garlic to casserole, stir, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the flour, cook for a moment or two, than add olives, chile flakes and wine. Stir, scraping pan, and bring to a simmer. Add stock. Return meat and its juices to the casserole.
Spicy Beef Ragout cooking in the pot.


Stir in the branches of rosemary, bay leaves and remaining thyme, making sure they are immersed into the meat and liquid. Cover and place in the oven. Place the pan of tomatoes in the oven. Cook both for 2 hours. Remove the pans from the oven. Check seasoning of meat. Cool and then refrigerate for 1 – 5 days.

Remove from refrigerator for one hour before putting in the oven. Reheat, covered, in a 250 – 300 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Boil 1 lb. of egg noodles in salted water. (I cooked them 3 minutes less than the package directions stated.) Drain and spread out on a large platter. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Transfer meat and sauce atop the noodles.

Warm the tomatoes in the microwave for a minute or two, arrange tomatoes on top and sprinkle on chopped parsley. Serve with LOVE and enjoy thoroughly!!! And for more recipes like this, visit my blog LOVE – the secret ingredient.

About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient www.lovethesecretingredient.net came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

Leave a Reply