Beef and Mushroom Ragu


Chef James McFarland, University of Saskatchewan

Ground beef paired with porcini mushrooms makes this a satisfying and umami-boosted meal. The mushrooms maintain a strong, distinct presence and the broad array of vegetables complements the beef. Thick pappardelle pasta lends the kind of “bite” that hearty dishes need.

“This is a popular meal with students, and straightforward to make yourself,” says McFarland. “A pound of ground beef is very versatile and can be turned into so many things.”

This recipe was adapted from Chef McFarland’s original and modified to cook at home.

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Beef and Mushroom Ragu




¼ cup (60 mL) dried porcini mushroom slices

2 cups (500 mL) warm water

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1 lb (500 g) Lean Ground Beef

2 cups (500 mL) diced fresh mushrooms (trumpet, oyster, white and/or cremini; about 8 oz/250 g)

2 cups (500 mL) diced onions

½ cup (125 mL) EACH diced celery, carrot, parsnip and turnip

1 tbsp (15 mL) salt

2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes

1½ cups (375 mL) dry red wine

4 oz (125 g) pieces Parmesan rind (optional), about ½ cup (125 mL)

¼ tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes


1 lb (500 g) dry parpardelle pasta or pasta shape (or 1½ lb/750 g fresh)

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh rosemary leaves, minced

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan

1 cup (250 mL) plain Greek yogurt


1. Ragu: Combine dried mushrooms with warm water in a medium bowl; let soak for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking water. Set both aside.

2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Cook beef, stirring often and using back of spoon to break up meat into small chunks, for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is browned. Drain, if necessary.

3. Add fresh mushrooms, onions, celery, carrot, parsnip, turnip and salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in drained soaked mushrooms.

4. Add tomato paste; cook, uncovered, and stirring often, until vegetables and tomato paste are starting to brown. Add diced tomatoes; simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

5. Pour in wine and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pot. Stir in half the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, Parmesan rinds (is using) and hot pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, adding more of the mushroom soaking liquid if sauce becomes too thick. Discard Parmesan rinds.

6. Pasta: Just before ragu is ready, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 6 minutes for dry pasta (or 2 minutes for fresh pasta) or until tender.

7. Drain pasta and add to ragu in pot; toss to combine. Stir in rosemary, butter and Parmesan.

8. Divide among serving dishes and top with a dollop of yogurt.


Tip: The Ragu can be prepared ahead. Let cooked ragu cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months; thaw in refrigerator overnight, if necessary. To serve, reheat over medium heat in a large saucepan, stirring often, until steaming, then proceed with step 6.

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