Ragoop! Errr maybe Ragout?

I’m always trying to find faster ways to make good food, or at least trying to make good food as fast as I can. One of my favorite things to make is lasagna, but I really feel like it’s more of an all day affair for me. I like to make the sauce and the pasta, so it takes a while. Well when I’m craving lasagna and don’t have the time, I make – what I call, Ragoop.

Ragoop, is my take on Ragout, with some hints of American Chop Suey. It starts off with the traditional Mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onions. People really enjoy seeing perfect little squares of carrots, celery, and onion – so take your time and chop them as nicely as you can. Unless – and this is for real – you are in a rush. If you’re hurrying just do a rough chop. It’s going to taste good either way. The pretty squares are just more eye candy than anything.

So once, you have all your vegetables chopped all nice nice, it’s time to brown the beef. I use a pound of chuck for this particular one. You can always make it more traditional, and find a meatloaf mix of: beef, veal, and pork. I used to do this, but have gotten lazy over the years (and cheaper) Anyways, once you have browned the beef drain it into a colander set over a dish of some kind. I collect the drippings and throw them away, I don’t ever recommend draining fat down your kitchen sink. Or any sink for that matter. So just let the fat drain off the beef in the colander while you move on to the next step.

Sauté the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) in the same pan that you used to brown the beef. There will be enough fat residue to use so you shouldn’t have to add any extra oil to the pan.

Once the vegetables have sautéed for a few minutes, add back in the beef. Take a clove of garlic and crush it with a garlic press and add all of the crushed garlic. You’re also going to add in 2 cups of beef stock and one jar of pasta sauce. I like Prego for this one, but if you have a favorite brand use that. Anyways it’s a 24 ounce jar of pasta sauce that you need. Stir everything together. Once everything is combined, add the salt and red pepper flakes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes are optional but I feel like they really add a nice little zip to this dish. Grated Parmesan is a nice way to add a really nice depth of flavor and saltiness to the dish. I usually add a tablespoon or so of Parmesan.

Choosing a pasta for this is pretty simple, macaroni works really well. BUT you could also use a penne, rigatoni, or shell shape pretty successfully. Some of the more intricate pasta shapes don’t work as well. So just keep it simple. I found the coolest pasta shape that I had never seen before, it’s called Sagnarelli. Flat pieces of pasta with a ripply edge that I have just fallen in love with. You only need half of a pound of pasta for this recipe. Add the 8 ounces of dried pasta ( really just eyeball half of the pound of pasta pack) to the sauce. Stir the pasta into the sauce well. You really want to make sure that there are no pieces of pasta sticking together.

I forgot to take a picture, but this is exactly the same type and brand of pasta I used!

Bring everything up to a simmer. Once you have reached a gentle simmer, put the lid on and reduce the heat to low. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Occasionally you will need to stir the contents of the pan to make sure that the pasta is cooking evenly. As the pasta cooks and becomes soft, make sure you use a gentle motion as to not destroy the integrity of the pasta. Once the 20 minutes has gone by, check the doneness of the pasta. It may need more time. The sagnarelli for instance took 30 minutes of cooking time. Let the pasta simmer until it is done.

Once the pasta is cooked all you need to do is serve and enjoy!

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