Recipe: $30.48 | Per Serving: $3.05 | Yield: 10 | Jump to Recipe
I know we're getting to the end of prime slow cooker season here, but this recipe deserves its day in the spotlight. It's rich and flavorful and so so simple! We've got shredded beef, flavored with tomatoes and a few hits of balsamic vinegar, plus a little sweetness from onions and umami from mushrooms.
Of all my slow cooker recipes, this one gets the most action because my Moink Box usually comes with a 3-4 pound beef chuck roast, and I have yet to experiment outside of this recipe! This isn't necessarily a traditional ragu, but beef ragu, bolognese, and Sunday sauce are all made from the same basic ingredients. Everyone has their own interpretation (even in Italy), but tossing it all in the slow cooker for the day makes it super simple.
The great thing about putting meat in a slow cooker is that you can buy cheaper and tougher cuts of meat and they'll break down into beautiful tender pieces. I definitely recommend keeping an eye out for beef sales so you can snag some grass-fed beef at an affordable price. And as for the mushroom haters, you can skip them if you want, but don't skip the balsamic!
I first made this recipe 1-2 years ago to take to a holiday potluck party. I've actually been tweaking it ever since, and am super happy with this final product. In general, I try to make really simple things for potlucks - either a slow cooker dish or a salad. I hate to bring things that take up precious space in someone's oven, and I always feel a little sad if I have to use the microwave. Slow cooker meals to the rescue!
I usually add all the ragu ingredients to the slow cooker the night before, then start it in the morning and cook it all day. When I get home, I'll stir in some frozen vegetables before serving. We almost always have this with spaghetti squash, but Zac prefers his with pasta, so sometimes we'll have both. Doing half and half is a great way to transition away from things like pasta without going 100% zoodle-y. I get it, not everyone loves spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash, so half and half is a great option.
Other great pairings include: gnocchi (regular or cauliflower), risotto, polenta (organic!), or even a side of balsamic roasted veggies (broccoli, red onion, sweet potato) can do the trick!
Let's talk about price for a second. If you're looking for grass-fed beef (highly recommended), you're probably going to be paying $6.99-$8.99 a pound for grass-fed chuck roast. I get mine in my Moink box so it's a little cheaper overall, but their add-on price for a 3ish pound chuck roast is $27.00. I understand that this is not cheap!
Some options: you can also use grass-fed stew meat, which is a little cheaper, or if you have to get conventional meat, I recommend removing as much fat as possible (toxic diets = more toxins stored in fat!). Another option is to join a local meat CSA, where you can just pay for a share of beef or pig or lamb that's been raised humanely, fed properly, and processed sustainably, and the cost comes down to $5-$6 per pound. In the Baltimore area, you can try Genuine Foods MD / Prigel Family Creamery. Buy the best cuts of meat that you can reasonably afford, and if you're eating conventional meat due to cost, just be sure to increase your antioxidants by eating plenty of vegetables!
Paleo: Yep, as long as you skip the brown rice noodles and serve it with something Paleo.
Vegetarian: Nope! You could possibly try something like jackfruit, but I have no idea how that would turn out.
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
- 1 medium onion sliced into thin wedges
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms or any, sliced or minced
- 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast grass fed if you can!
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt Celtic or pink Himalayan, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 28 oz can of organic tomatoes diced or crushed
- 1 Tablespoon Italian sausage seasoning or Italian herbs
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 8 cloves garlic crushed with a knife or minced
- 16 oz spinach fresh or frozen, to be added at the end
- Prep the onions and mushrooms and add them to the slow cooker; I usually put the onions on the bottom since they release a lot of water.
- Place the beef on a plate or bowl and season all over with salt and black pepper. (Optionally you can cut it into thirds to make it a little easier to shred later, but I generally don’t do this.) Place the beef in the slow cooker atop the vegetables.
- Add the canned tomatoes, herbs and seasonings, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. (Sometimes I grate the garlic on a microplane and rub it all over the beef before adding seasonings.)
- Cook on LOW for at least 8 hours. You can cook this between 8-12 hours.
- When almost ready to serve, shred the beef with two forms, and stir in the spinach. You can turn off the heat and cover this to let the spinach wilt or thaw, approximately 5-15 minutes.
- Serve with spaghetti squash, pasta (egg noodles or brown rice noodles are the best!), risotto, polenta (organic), or a big plate of roasted vegetables! I love pairing this dish with spaghetti squash and the bagna cauda from Nom Nom Paleo’s cookbook!
Nutrition label is for 10 servings (3lbs beef).