Brisket Ragu with Crispy Polenta Cakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 16 polenta cake appetizers
Author Dana at


  • 2 pounds brisket 75% fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion small dice
  • 1/2 cup carrot small dice
  • 1/2 cup celery small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup Chianti or dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 10 cracks fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar

Crispy Polenta Cakes

  • 18- ounce polenta roll
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

To Serve

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or parmesan
  • 2 large basil leaves


  • Season beef with salt. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sear the meat with one tablespoon of olive oil. Do not crowd the pan, you will have to sear in at least two batches, adding another tablespoon of olive oil if necessary. Take out beef and set aside.
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil, add into the pan the onions, carrots, and celery, turn the heat to medium-low. Sautee for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and saute for one minute until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and fry in the fat until fragrant, about a minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and thyme. Mix to combine.
  • Add the beef back to the pot with the Parmesan rinds and pepper. Stir, bring to a bowl. Cover and place in a preheated 250-degree oven. Cook for one hour. Take the lid off, cook an additional two hours (this will help to evaporate excess liquid). Place the lid back on and cook another one to two hours until beef is tender.

Crispy Polenta Cakes

  • Slice the polenta roll into about 1/4 inch slices. With a cookie cutter, cut out the desired shape or leave them round.
  • In a pan over medium-high heat, add one teaspoon of the olive oil. Place about 5 of the polenta cakes into the pan at a time, do not overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes each side. Drain and set aside until all are cooked.

To Serve

  • Place about a tablespoon of the sauce on each polenta cake. Top with cheese and torn basil leaves.