Slow-cooked, fall-apart beef in a rich red wine and tomato sauce. Just 10 minutes of prep needed, then leave it to cook in the oven or slow cooker.
I love to make a big batch of this so I have some leftovers for freezing.
It's such a versatile and flavourful recipe - perfect for cosying up in front of the TV with a bowl, or serving as the main course at a dinner party.
I think my favourite part of this beef ragu is the leftovers. When I open the freezer and see it in there, it's like finding money in a jacket you forgot about.
And I don't always serve it up with pasta the second time round. Sometimes I serve it in burritos, sometimes I stir in a little cream and serve it with saute potatoes, or I'll have a mini portion for lunch with some spicy couscous.
The possibilities are endless!
Served up with a mountain of pasta and sprinkled with a little parmesan though? Yep, I could eat that every single day!
📋 What do we need?
🥩 Best beef cut for ragu
I use fairly inexpensive braising or stewing steak - often known as chuck steak, which comes from the forequarter.
Usually, this consists of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm.
It’s a tough but very flavorful cut of meat. It has a lot of connective tissue, which needs long slow cooking to break down and become tender.
🍷 Which wine for Ragu?
I use pretty cheap red wine for this - usually a merlot, malbec or shiraz costing about £5-£5.50 (around $7) a bottle. The flavour comes mostly from the beef, stock and vegetables, so there's no need to use expensive wine.
If you don't want to use alcohol, then leave it out and add in a little extra stock.
🔪 How to make this Ragu recipe
**Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.**
- First we coat the beef in flour, salt and pepper, then brown it off in a pan with oil. You might have to work in two batches depending on the size of your pan.
- Add in finely chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic and allow the to vegetables to cook for a few minutes to soften slightly.
- Add in tomato puree (paste) and red wine and let that bubble for a couple of minutes. Scrape off any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan - they'll be full of flavour!
- Add in tinned tomatoes, beef stock and thyme. Bring to the boil, then place a lid on and cook in the oven for 3-4 hours, until the beef is lovely and tender.
Remove from the oven and give it a good stir, then serve it up with pasta and sprinkling of parsley and parmesan.
👩🍳PRO TIP I like to dunk the pasta in the sauce in the casserole dish first to coat it in that rich sauce, then transfer the pasta to a bowl and spoon more sauce and meat on top.
📺 Watch how to make it
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Big Batch Beef Ragu with Pasta
- 1 kg (2 ¼ lbs) braising beef - chopped into bite sized cubes
- 3 heaped tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions - peeled and chopped
- 4 medium carrots - peeled and chopped into small chunks
- 3 sticks of celery - chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree/paste
- 300 ml (1 ¼ cups) red wine - (optional, replace with stock if you prefer)
- 800 g (28oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
- 600 ml (2 ½ cups) hot beef stock - (water plus 2 stock cubes is fine)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Cooked pappardelle pasta - or your favourite pasta
- finely grated parmesan cheese
- Small bunch parsley - chopped
- Preheat oven to 160C/325F.
- Place the braising beef in a bowl and mix with the flour, salt and pepper.
- Heat up the oil in a large casserole pan, Brown the beef (you may need to do this in two or three batches).
- Add the onion to the beef and cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Add in the carrot, celery and garlic and cook for another two minutes.
- Add in the tomato puree (paste) and stir, then add in the wine, turn up the heat and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the chopped tomatoes, beef stock and thyme. Bring to the boil, stir and place a lid on the pan.
- Place in the oven for 3-4 hours(*Note 1) until the beef is very tender. Check every hour or so to ensure the sauce isn't running dry. Top up with a splash of boiling water if it's starting to look dry.
- Once cooked, serve with pappardelle. You can stir the pappardelle through the sauce or just serve the sauce on top of the pappardelle if you prefer. Top with a sprinkling of cheese and parsley, then serve.
Make the recipe up to an including the point you add the tinned tomatoes, stock and thyme. Bring to the boil, then pour everything into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Can I make it ahead? Yes, make the ragu, then cool quickly, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Reheat in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot throughout. Can I freeze it? Yes, make the ragu, then cool quickly, cover and freeze. I like to freeze mine in portions of one or two, but you can freeze in larger portions if you prefer. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator (it will likely take longer than overnight to defrost if you freeze a large portion).
Reheat in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot throughout. How to scale up and scale down this recipe You can double or halve the recipe, sticking to the same quantities.
If you're halving the recipe, keep a close eye on it when in the oven, as the reduced amount of liquid can mean it can dry out quicker. Add a splash or water or stock if it's starting to look dry. If you double the recipe, please note it will take a little longer to cook in each of the steps. Allow an extra 10 minutes for the initial cooking steps (browning the meat and softening the vegetables), then an extra 30-60 minutes in the oven - until the meat is fall-apart tender. . Nutritional Information is per Serving WITHOUT the Serving suggestions of Pasta, Cheese and Parsley
This post was first published in July 2017. Updated March 2021 with new photos, tips and video.
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