Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen
35 minutes
Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)

Think of this savory meat sauce as a cross between beef stew and sloppy joe filling. Add pearl onions to soups and stir-fries, or saute in a skillet with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. The perfect pairing for this ragout is our Cauliflower Polenta. While the stock mixture for the polenta comes to a boil, begin cooking the beef mixture. As your finish the ragout, the polenta will be cooking away. The addition of cauliflower to traditional polenta lightens the recipe. To add more vegetables to this ragout, add carrots and parsnips during the fall.  

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add beef; cook 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and white parts of green onions; cook 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan.

Step 3

Add pearl onions to pan; cook 2 minutes. Add 2 cups tomato and ketchup; cook 3 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture, remaining 3/4 cup stock, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in beef mixture, green parts of green onions, and remaining 1 cup tomato. Sprinkle with chives.

Ratings & Reviews

Good recipe but needed a kick

October 13, 2016
I added red pepper flakes to give it more flavor and then it was great. Whole Foods sells cauliflower rice if you want to skip that step on the accompanying cauliflower polenta recipe.


September 10, 2016
Incredibly bland and soupy, this ragout's lack of complexity or flavor was a shock...I generally have wonderful results whenever I use recipes from Cooking Light. This one went straight down the drain; I never got as far as the cauliflower polenta, but will try it with my favorite beef stew recipe from this site.

Easy, but not a winner

September 07, 2016
While this recipe was fairly easy, it just wasn't a winner overall with my family. The whole onions turned off the kids (I usually have to dice them very small to hide them in dishes), and the tomatoes nearly made them gag. My husband and I enjoyed it, but I probably won't put it in the monthly rotation. It reminds me of something you'd scoop out of a cast iron dutch oven on the ranch in the 1920s--and if I'm spending my time and energy preparing it, I want something that reminds me of something you'd find at a swanky restaurant tomorrow. I'd just as soon open a can of cowboy stew than go to all that trouble.I did enjoy the cauliflower polenta, although I could definitely taste the cauliflower. If you're looking for a lighter polenta that tastes like polenta, this ain't it! But if you want cauliflower that looks like polenta, you're getting closer.Recipe notes:Even if you have to chop everything, you can probably do it in 45 minutes. Don't try to whisk dry corn starch right into the pot--whisk it into a small amount of liquid first and pour the whole thing into the pot to thicken it.Have a lot of dishes on hand--between the corn starch bowl, the "set aside the meat" bowl, the pot for polenta, the food processor for the cauliflower, and the skillet for the ragout, my sink is filled to overflowing, bless God! (This is a big deal to me, the dishwasher.)If you, like me, are stuck with grocery stores like Spaghetti-Onlyland and Nothing-Special-Store and can't find dry polenta, you can use the prepared kind--just use less stock. (Oh, and remember the part in the recipe that said, "Pre-riced cauliflower"? Bahahaha! That gave me a good chuckle. Pre-riced cauliflower. Hah. I'm willing to bet no grocery manager within a 50 mile radius even knows what that is! I can hear him now, "Welp, we got rice on aisle 7. And we got cauliflower in produce. But I ain't never heard-a no rice cauliflower." Teehee.) 

Great meal with common ingredients

August 17, 2016
We made this recpie this week and have really enjoyed it.  The beef ragout has great flavor to it when you follow the recipe.  I was very impressed witht the spicy, sweetness that the sauce had.  Made a great topper for the polenta which we loved.  We will definitely be making this one again.

Easy great one to try...can add too it next time too...

August 16, 2016
FABULOUS. We made this last night for dinner. Our 11 month old loved it too. Super easy and flavorful.

Tasty easy weeknight meal

August 15, 2016
For how little effort this took, my family thought it was very tasty. I also made the cauliflower polenta to go with it. Mashed potatoes could also be good, but the cauliflower polenta was very good as well. Might add more veggies to it next time, but a great base for family dinners!