Porcini Beef Ragu

For this porcini beef ragu, ground dried porcini mushrooms amp up the flavors of traditional ground beef and tomato ragu. It’s ready to ladle over pasta or polenta in just one hour, though everyone will swear it tastes like it has been simmering all day.

A plate of porcini beef ragu

Adapted from Rebecca White | The Ultimate 5 Ingredient Cookbook | Page Street Publishing, 2021

A hearty, rich, and satisfying ragu can be a weeknight reality with this porcini beef ragu. The sauce is ready in under an hour, and it is unmatched in flavor due to one unique ingredient: dried porcini mushrooms. If you are a fan of mushroom flavor but don’t like the texture, this recipe is for you. The ground porcini produces mushroom essence without the infamous texture. If there are any leftovers—which is rarely the case—they can be frozen. I recommend doubling the recipe.—Rebecca White

Porcini Beef Ragu FAQs

How can I freeze cooked pasta?

As Rebecca White says, this porcini beef ragu can be frozen. First, let the cooked pasta cool. Scoop it into a resealable freezer bag, remove excess air, and zip shut. To re-heat the pasta, let the bag sit in a bowl of hot tap water or pop it into the microwave. Easy-peasy.

What’s a great wine to serve with this beef ragu?

Some lovely choices include Rioja, Sangiovese, Barbera, Merlot, Chianti, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Red Burgundy.

Porcini Beef Ragu

A plate of porcini beef ragu
If you are a fan of mushroom flavor but do not like the texture, this recipe is for you. The ground porcini produces mushroom essence without the infamous texture. If there are any leftovers—which is rarely the case—they can be frozen. I recommend doubling the recipe.
Rebecca White

Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr
Entree
Italian
4 servings
630 kcal
4.25 / 4 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 medium (8 oz) yellow onion peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef preferably 85/15
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 2 cups water plus more as needed
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
  • Cooked pasta or polenta for serving

Directions
 

  • In a mini food processor, blitz the porcini mushrooms until finely ground. Transfer the porcini powder to a small bowl and wipe the food processor clean. Place the onion into the food processor and blitz until pureed.
  • In a large flat-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pureed onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally, 8 to 12 minutes.
  • Stir in the ground beef and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until browned and sticking to the pan, stirring frequently, 9 to 15 minutes. If you are ambitious with the heat (like me) and the bottom of the skillet looks as if it could go from brown to black, add a smidge of water to quickly deglaze.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until it darkens, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  • Stir in the ground porcini powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the Parmesan and stir to combine. If the sauce begins to look too thick, add more water and continue to simmer to the desired consistency.
  • Serve over pasta or polenta, topped with more freshly grated Parmesan.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 630kcal (32%)Carbohydrates: 8g (3%)Protein: 40g (80%)Fat: 48g (74%)Saturated Fat: 18g (113%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 143mg (48%)Sodium: 1294mg (56%)Potassium: 666mg (19%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 339IU (7%)Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 322mg (32%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Looking for a quick, easy, and hearty sauce for your pasta? You can prepare this porcini beef ragu in about an hour, feeding 4 to 6 hungry dinner guests. I like the earthy umami flavor that mushrooms bring to a sauce, and in this recipe, it’s understated yet enhances the beef. 

Sometimes tomato-based sauce can be way too acidic, and I think you will find this version, using just a few tablespoons of tomato paste, brings the sweetness of the tomato to the ragu. I cooked my spaghetti and drained it, then placed it in a bowl, adding a few ladles of the sauce over the pasta, and mixed it together so each strand was coated with the ragu. I then portioned it out into bowls, then placed another ladle atop each pile of pasta, finishing it off with some chiffonade of basil. I felt it needed a bit of green!

Now that the porcini dust has cleared from my kitchen and the sauce is made I can honestly say this porcini beef ragu is delicious.

After simmering, it looked like it was perfect with no need to add more water but as the sauce cooled in the pot it got very thick and in order to reheat it, I needed to add some water.

Love this with thick tubular pasta. Perfect meal combined with a green salad. It looks like it would freeze beautifully.

This hands down has to be my new favourite pasta dish. The sauce is incredibly rich and packed with so much flavour from the dried porcini mushrooms. 

A plate of porcini beef ragu

After tasting this you would think it took all day to simmer with a million ingredients but it came together in 45 minutes with the use of very few ingredients, all of which most households would have on hand. The use of the dried porcini mushrooms is the key to the flavour bomb of this dish so if you don’t like the texture of mushrooms but the flavour of them, this dish a must-try! 

I served this with Elicoidali pasta and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, both complemented each other beautifully. It turned a Wednesday night dinner into an unexpected date night. 

After our first few bites of this porcini beef ragu there was a collective ‘wow’ from the dinner table. It was hard to believe that this decadent sauce was created from such few ingredients! And simple ones at that. I was surprised at the depth of flavor that the dried porcini powder adds to the sauce; that plus the concentrated tomato paste, salty Parmesan cheese and the hearty ground beef, this was unlike any ragu I have ever made. I wasn’t sure we would love it as much as a more tomato-based ragu like we are used to, but this more Northern Italian-style version was amazing.

I served mine over large al dente rigatoni like in the photo with a side of roasted broccoli with lemon. Oh, and a glass of Barolo which was a perfect pairing for the rich sauce. And a little bit of the ragu goes a long way. I tossed the ragu with 12 ounces of cooked rigatoni and this would feed 4 perfectly. We loved this so much I was disappointed that I didn’t just go ahead and double it so that we had more! I bet it would freeze well too.

We enjoyed this porcini beef ragu with spaghetti and it would also be good with short pasta such as penne or rigatoni.  An easy, quick meat sauce for a weeknight. While it won’t replace my long-cooked go-to recipe, it’s great to have in my back pocket for when we crave something warm and satisfying.

Originally published February 9, 2022

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Comments

  1. Usually dried porcini have to be soaked AND rinsed because of all the bits of dirt (ground, bark, etc.) that get stuck to the mushroom and dried together with them. Recipes usually instruct you then to save the soaking water and add it back to the dish, but you have to strain it first to get rid of said bits. How does this fit in with this method? You are going to ground the dirt together with the good stuff…

    1. You have a good point, marcella. You can definitely take the time to check the pieces of dried mushroom before adding it to your food processor and removing any bits of bark or dirt you find. The soaking and rinsing process won’t work here because it would be very difficult to grind up wet rehydrated mushrooms. Alternatively, porcini mushroom powder can be purchased online or at specialty grocers.

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