This isn't a week's worth of ragu, but it takes a long time and makes more than a meal's worth. And it is the recipe you'll need to have made for the next recipe.
The first thing you might notice is that I call for flank steak rather than ground beef. Here's the way I see it. Grinding is the ultimate tenderizer—if you don't have the time to cook meat into submission, you grind it. Ragu by nature is a long-cooking recipe, so why use ground beef? In my experience ground meat is done and on the way to drying out after about 15 minutes. But a piece of meat like flank steak...after 15 minutes it's just getting started. Just right for ragu.
Another principle at work here is browning and evaporating. Now, everyone knows that browned food is more flavorful than un-browned food. It's the toast vs. bread thing. Also, everyone knows that as a sauce evaporates it gets more concentrated. What's going on here is that you brown the meat, then let the juices cook down to a crust on the bottom of the pan. You let the crust brown, then reconstitute it with wine. You let that cook down and brown, then add milk. This way you build a rich sauce with deep flavors.
You can use all of this over pasta, or set some aside for the casserole recipe that follows. This freezes well—since it is so time-consuming, feel free to double this recipe.
Recipe: Beef Ragu
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