Student's Ragu (Braised Beef Steak with Vegetables)
Serves 4 to 6
I do not know how this recipe got its title but in my family it was always called Student's Ragu. This was one of my father's favorite meals as a child. As I understand it, Nana made it in the oven, but my mother preferred to slowly cook it on top of the stove, even if it required more attention. It is a typical Pennsylvania Dutch and German dish in that it uses very simple and readily available ingredients. I think my mother added the fresh parsley, as it was not always available out of season in Nana's time. This is an easy and delicious main dish and one pot meal.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 6 slices bacon
- 2 pounds beef round steak, cut into serving size pieces
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Water as needed
- 4 small carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the bacon. Brown the bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet. Dust the steaks pieces with salt, pepper and flour. Add a little oil to the pan if needed and turn the burner to high. Add the meat, in batches as needed, and brown well, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Add about 1 cup water to skillet and deglaze the bottom, scraping up the browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return the meat to the pan and braise, checking about every 15 minutes and adding moisture as needed, always scraping up anything from bottom of pan. After 1 hour, add the remaining ingredients except for the parsley. Braise for another hour, checking often, or until potatoes are tender and meat is very tender. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.
Notes: If you prefer to braise in the oven, brown the meat first. Cover tightly with foil. The cooking times should be about the same, except that you do not need to check the meat or vegetables until the total times indicated.