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Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

Beef Ragu

There is nothing quite like a homemade, slow cooked beef ragu. It’s the recipe I love making when I’ve got a little bit of time up my sleeve. It blips away on the stove while I potter around the house and what I’m left with is the most luscious, delicious meal that requires very little effort to prepare. Once the steak and vegetables are cut, they are simmered together in one pan (yes to minimal clean up!) and you’re left with fork-tender beef in a rich tomato sauce that is an absolute slice of heaven when paired with a chunky pasta like rigatoni. This recipe serves between 4-6 people. I often freeze half the sauce, ready for a rainy day, making this an economical family meal perfect for any night of the week. 

Can I leave the red wine out of beef ragu?

Yes. Simply substitute the red wine with more beef stock.

What can I use instead of chuck steak?

Any slow-cook cut of beef is suitable for this recipe. Gravy beef or oyster blade steak are suitable substitutes.

My beef is still tough, what do I do?

Keep cooking! If the beef is still tough after 2.5 hours of cooking, it needs to cook for longer. Make sure the sauce is still bubbling very gently (you should be able to see bubbles appearing in the sauce; if not, the heat is too low and the beef will take a lot longer to cook). The beauty of slow-cook beef like chuck steak is that it is almost impossible to overcook—the longer it cooks, the more it will soften and break down into the sauce. Continue cooking in 30-minute intervals. If the sauce seems to be too thick and sticking to the base of the pan,  add 1/2 cup of water as needed.

Can you make Beef Ragu ahead of time?

Yes, you can refrigerate Beef Ragu for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the fridge to reheat. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

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Beef Ragu

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

  • Total Time: 2 hours 55 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 800 g1 kg beef chuck steak, cut into roughly 2 cm or 3/4″ cubes (see note 1 for substitutes)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 700 g passata
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pasta, to serve (rigatoni pictured)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a heavy-based, deep pan with a lid.
  2. Add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes until softened.
  3. Turn the heat to high, add the beef chuck steak and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes until sealed.
  4. Add the red wine, tomato paste, passata, beef stock, salt, pepper, dried thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Cover, reduce to lowest heat setting, and cook 2.5 hours or until beef is tender enough to be easily shredded with two forks (see note 1). 
  6. Shred beef with two forks and serve with your favourite pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Notes

Note 1 – If the beef is still tough after 2.5 hours of cooking, it needs to cook for longer. Make sure the sauce is still bubbling very gently (you should be able to see bubbles appearing in the sauce; if not, the heat is too low and the beef will take a lot longer to cook). The beauty of chuck steak is that it is almost impossible to overcook – the longer it cooks, the more it will soften and break down into the sauce. Continue cooking in 30-minute intervals. If the sauce seems to be too thick and sticking to the base of the pan, add 1/2 cup of water.  

MAKE AHEAD

Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the fridge to reheat. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

LEFTOVERS

Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the fridge to reheat. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

  • Author: Nicole
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 45 mins
  • Category: Beef, beef ragu, Slow Cooked Beef Ragu
  • Method: slow cook
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: beef ragu recipe, the best beef ragu, easy beef ragu

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Comments

  1. This is sooooo good! I’ve made it once and we ate all of it within a few days. Plan on making it again tonight.

  2. Hi Nicole

    I’ve tried many of your recipes and let me say they have been amazing. However tonight i’m trying this recipe it’s cooking now. I’m concerned I haven’t got the right meat. At the butcher i asked for chuck steak and they didn’t have any so i got the diced beef. Hoping it still turns out ok but i have my doubts 😂

    • Oh no Tash! 🙈😂 You were spot on asking for chuck steak – Did the butcher recommend the diced beef as an alternative? Any slow-cook cut will work, I would cook it for as long as possible. If it is in fact a slow-cook cut, you will find you can’t over cook it, it will get softer and softer as it cooks (and it can take a good few hours to break down the beef). If after 3.5 hours it’s as still hard as a rock we are in trouble town, haha! Which I really hope isn’t the case! I’m crossing my fingers! Please let me know how it goes, I’m standing by nervously. 😂 x

  3. We added mushrooms & it was delicious!

  4. Just wondering if this Could this be cooked in a slow cooker? Would I just halve the stock and red wine ingredients? We love it, but trying to find a way to have it cooked whilst at work

  5. This looks so good! very keen to try. Would rump steak work ok, or better to track down the chuck? Also, I have fresh thyme in my garden – would you recommend? THANK YOU!!

  6. Made this in my pressure cooker tonight. Delicious! Added to my list to make again.

    • Any advice on how to cook with a pressure cooker??

  7. Hi Nic,
    Please help me figure out what I’m doing wrong! 2nd time cooking this meal for dinner. My meat keeps turning out tough 🙁

    I’ve slow cooked a handful of times before with other recipes and the meat has always just fallen apart! My family is absolutely hooked on your slow cooked lamb shoulder by the way!

    Back to this dinner, I’m following the recipe instructions so don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Any advice? Do I just keep simmering away hoping it will become tender or will that over cook it?

    Thank you x

    Thank you

    • Oh no! Tough meat is definitely not what we are after! I’m so sorry to hear that! ❤️ The answer is to definitely keep simmering and cooking. I’m so glad you have messaged because I will add additional notes to the recipe. Gravy, chuck, oyster blade or any other slow cook casserole-style beef cut will continue to break down and the longer it cooks, it will sooner disintegrate before it overcooks… so the good news is there is definitely no risk in over cooking and it becoming tough. 2.5 hours is generally enough time, but depending on how long the beef has been seared initially/the size of the pieces and the heat of the stove, it might need up to 30 minutes longer (or as long as it takes to soften). The only risk is the sauce reducing too much, in which case 1/2 cup of water every 30 minutes after the 2.5 hour mark will do the trick. I hope that makes sense and I do hope you try it again because it is outrageously tasty once it softens! Let me know how you go if you try. x

  8. Sounds so good! I’m going to try this tonight in the slow cooker! Would you suggest to just sear the meat and then throw everything in?
    Can’t wait!

    • I’d love to hear how this turned out! 😍 Such a great idea popping it into the slow cooker! I would definitely sear the beef for maximum flavour and would probably follow the recipe up until step 3. At this point I would add the red wine and let that cook out and reduce by half and then I would transfer to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. It would need at least 8 hours on low in the slow cooker. I’ll definitely be giving it a go myself! Nic x

  9. Simply yummy!!! Next time I think I’ll try it with some mushrooms!

    • Ohh YES that sounds so delicious! Thank you so much x

  10. My goodness, this was delicious!! I actually just popped it all into my slow cooker for 6 hrs and wowsers, a perfect, stress free, family dinner! My 2yo even loved it!
    Can’t wait to start making more x

    • Oh wow – Delicious! I am so glad it got the tick of approval, especially from your little one! Fantastic idea popping it in the slow cooker. Thank you so much for trying the recipe and taking the time to comment! x

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