Irresistible beef ragu

Italians, I have your secret to a delicious ragu! This is sublime and tastes like something I would marvel at Italy and never hope to replicate at home.

I think the secret to this ragu, actually, is to get amazing beef from your local butcher. We bought a rib of beef (well, two ribs worth) which, while it certainly wasn’t the cheapest cut of meat I’ve ever bought, it was worth the money.

We’d made a lovely Sunday roast with it and the leftover from this is what I used in this ragu. I’ve changed some of the ingredients and timings from the recipe I was following at the time so it’s a bit quicker and easier to make.

Ingredients for 3 (or for two with seconds):

  • 250 – 350g roast beef, cut into small dice
  • 2 slices pancettaragu
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 2 bay leaves
    3 garlic cloves
  • 250ml red wine
  • 400-500ml passata
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 30g parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling
  • small bunch fresh parsley or majoram


  1. Set a medium saucepan over a medium heat and dice the beef and pancetta while the pan is heating up. Then add to the pan and brown for 5 minutes.
  2. While that’s cooking, finely chop the carrot, onion and celery, and crush the garlic.
  3. Once the beef is done, transfer to a colander to drain and add the chopped vegetables in to the pan along with the bay leaf and garlic. Cook that for 5 minutes to colour and soften slightly.
  4. Add the meat back in, along with the red wine and allow to cook softly until it’s reduced by two thirds.
  5. Then add in the passata, tomato puree, vinegar, parmesan and chopped herbs. Cook slowly for 20 minutes to a thick, rich consistency. At this point, prepare your pasta or side.
  6. Add in seasoning to taste and when you’re happy with the sauce consistency and the pasta is ready, serve up and tuck in! If the sauce seems too thick, feel free to add some of the pasta cooking water in to loosen it up.

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