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
🍽️ What to serve it with
You can serve this tasty ragu with:
- Homemade Pasta
- Crispy Sautéed Potatoes
- Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
- Artisan Bread for dunking!
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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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About to cook this recipe, on question as it’s for function in 4 days can I cook the pappardelle and freeze or will it freeze ok mixed with the beef mixture.
Nicky Corbishley says
I would cook the pappardelle fresh if possible. Pasta absorbs more liquid the longer it's sitting in it - so you may find the pasta goes too soft and they ragu is drier if you mix the ragu with the pasta and then freeze.
The ragu will freeze well though (see freezing instructions at the bottom of the recipe card. Also note: it will take longer to defrost if you're making a bigger portion).
Maria Georgiou says
This recipe has become a firm favourite in our family! rich and so flavourful, my kids cannot get enough!
Andrew Marshall says
This is seriously lush! Myself and the other half really enjoyed it and my nephew asked for seconds! Amazing!
What make and model is the oven used? That design would work so much better in my home.
Nicky Corbishley says
Hi Lee, it's a Neff Slide and Hide oven. I used to work with them (creating recipes), so I've tried a number of their ovens. My favourite from their range is the combi steam.
Best recipe I have used so far for massamum - we make it fortnightly and it reheats beautifully. Just have to be careful to stir frequently enough so it doesn’t stick to the base. I use lamb instead of beef. Thanks Nicky great recipe!
This is absolutely delicious. I decided to half the recipe for my first attempt and thank goodness I did because it filled my slow cooker almost to the top. I used extra lean diced beef and it came out beautifully tender. I shredded the beef at the end and stirred it back into the sauce and served with cheesy risotto and it was divine. I’ve not stopped thinking about how tasty this was and I’ll definitely be making this again soon 😋
Made this last weekend and it was amazing. We are doing it again this week but swapping the thyme for rosemary
Can you make this recipe in an Instant Pot, too?
Nicky Corbishley says
Sorry Ola, I don't own an instant pot, so I can't advise. My friend Bintu over at https://www.recipesfromapantry.com has a lot of instant pot recipes if that helps?
This is my go to recipe for beef ragu, we love it. Thanks Nicky.
Betty Haniotakis says
I would suggest a small change in the directions - the first direction says to preheat the oven - I would change it to say, 'unless you will make it in a slow cooker' (or words to that effect)
Oh heeeck to the yes. This looks SO delish- could definitely eat this all week long!
Melissa | Bless this Mess says
Mmmm...you've got me dreaming of cool fall nights cozying up to a hearty meal like this one! Although, I'd eat this right now in the heat of summer, too! Looks delicious!
James | Thyme to Mango says
Thank you for this recipe, it's so what I need right now! Most of the blogs I follow are in the Northern Hemisphere and, at the moment, are all posting ice cream, salad and BBQ recipes which is just teasing whilst I'm wrapped up in sooooooo many layers, sitting inches from my heater whilst the mercury is quickly dropping below zero!!! (This was not what I signed up for when I moved to Australia ????). I'm in need of some hot, pasta-filled inspiration and here it is!!!
Paul Knight says
What is braising beef?
Oh yum! Not sure it could ever be too hot to dive into a big bowl of this Nicola, it looks just perfect!