Butternut Squash & Beef Ragu

It's finally fall, which means...ALL. BUTTERNUT SQUASH. EVERYTHING. And yes, that means even in my meat sauce.

Truth be told, when I see all my people back in the United States posting about crisp fall days and sweater weather, I get a twinge of jealousy. I definitely didn't expect to be missing the colder months when my husband and I decided to move to Singapore, the land of eternal summer. But here I am, longing for fall, feeling just a tad bit home - er, season - sick?

So, to combat my fall FOMO, I turned to my trusty old friend, butternut squash. Then I turned my trusty old friend into dinner.

Butternut Squash and Beef Ragu | www.mackenziemjordan.com

This ragu starts out like the traditional version: mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), garlic, thyme, your meat of choice (I used beef chuck roast, but you could use pork shoulder, or even ground beef/pork) - the usual suspects. Then, it takes a twist, replacing red wine with white, beef stock with chicken (although, you could use beef stock if that’s what you have on hand) and tomatoes for…you guessed it - butternut squash! Before you go thinking I’m off my rocker for ditching a very important player in a delicious meat sauce, I did add a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes and a bit of tomato paste to add some depth of flavor and balance out the sweetness of the butternut squash.

Butternut Squash and Beef Ragu | www.mackenziemjordan.com

After a several-hour-simmer, the result of was a rich and savory, perfectly beefy, slightly spicy ragu that had me feeling so cozy I almost forgot it was a sauna outside. ALMOST.

Anyway, I am now obsessed with this ragu, and don't tell my Italian husband this, but I may not make a the traditional version ever again.

Next time you have a random butternut squash on hand and you’re looking for a new way to use it, I encourage you to give this Butternut Squash and Beef Ragu recipe a try!

Butternut Squash and Beef Ragu | www.mackenziemjordan.com

Butternut Squash and Beef Ragu

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 2-1/2 to 3 hours

1-1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
28 ounces butternut squash, cubed
2 cups chicken stock
1 medium white onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 large stalk celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 ounces yellow cherry tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound pappardelle or pasta of choice
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
Fresh thyme, for topping

BROWN BEEF

Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef, browning on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove beef, set aside. 

MAKE BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE

In the meantime, boil cubed butternut squash and 2 cups chicken stock until butternut squash is fork tender. Puree butternut squash with remaining chicken stock (no need to drain) with a hand immersion blender regular blender until smooth.

If you’re using store bought puree, go ahead and skip this step.

SAUTE VEGETABLES

Add diced onion, carrot, celery and garlic to Dutch oven. Sauté over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Once vegetables are tender, add thyme and red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste; continue to sauté, 1 minute. Add dry white wine, 1 tablespoon butter and yellow tomatoes, simmer over low heat until tomatoes begin to soften; use the back of a wooden spoon to crush tomatoes.

Roughly blend sautéed vegetable mixture, with a hand immersion blender or regular blender.

SIMMER RAGU

Add butternut squash puree, browned beef and tomato paste back to Dutch oven, simmer on low, covered, for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until beef begins to shred.

When beef is tender, remove Dutch oven from heat and use two forks to finely shred beef. Add salt and pepper, to taste, cover to keep warm.

COOK PASTA

Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta to boiling water. As pasta cooks, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Cook pasta to al dente, drain well. Return pasta to pot, add butter and a little reserved pasta water to loosen.

To serve, portion pasta into bowl, top with desired amount of Butternut Squash Ragu, garnish with fresh thyme leaves and grated Parmesan. EAT IT ALL.