A budget cut of beef, simple pantry ingredients, a bit of patience and pappardelle pasta. This Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Sauce with Pappardelle may be the king of all pastas. It is hands down one of my all time favourite pastas ever!
There’s this annoying thing that’s been a thorn in my backside all my working life. This thing called pride. I’m not a professional food photographer, or food stylist, videographer or a chef for that matter. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is being proud of everything that I have on my website, knowing that even if there are people out there who can take better photos and make better videos, that I’ve done the best I can do and I’m proud of what I’m sharing.
3 years into blogging with over 500 recipes, I still get butterflies when I hit Publish on a new or updated recipe.
And having rewritten, rephotographed and made a video for this Shredded Beef Ragu which I first shared over 2 years ago, yes I’m going to have butterflies when I hit Publish on this (again!) because it’s one of my all time personal favourites. 🙂
PS Just to clarify, for those of you who have already tried and loved this recipe, the recipe hasn’t changed!
I have a weakness for all things slow cooked, but hands down this shredded beef ragu is one of my all time favourites. I’d dare say I love it even more than traditional Ragu Alla Bolognese. It’s the shredded beef that seals the deal for me. The way it soaks up the sauce and clings to the pasta. It’s an absolute ripper!
I’m pretty sure I first learned how to make Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Sauce with Pappardelle from Lidia Bastianich. Years ago, her show “Lidia’s Italy” was one of the few cooking shows on free-to-air TV and I used to watch them over and over again. Almost everything I know about Italian cooking (including the reason why I was hunting down Kale a decade before it became “cool”) is because of Lidia Bastianich. Old school, real deal Italian. 🙂
Best Pasta to serve with Ragu
The question of what type of pasta to serve with different pasta sauces is a question that I get asked quite regularly. Generally, most pasta sauces will pair perfectly well with most common pasta types, like spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, penne / ziti, macaroni, shells etc.
And while this Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Sauce will be great with any type of pasta, the best pasta for a rich sauce like this ragu is pappardelle. This wide, flat pasta is especially great for this recipe because the shredded beef clings to the wide strands.
For pappardelle, I am quite particular about which brand I use because I’ve had problems in the past with uneven cooking. I use San Remo which is a well known trusted brand here in Australia. The pappardelle is bundled into nests so they are fully submerged when dropped into boiling water, and the nests are loose enough so the bubbling water separates the strands and the pappardelle cooks evenly.
You’ll find San Remo pappardelle at all the major supermarkets as well as fresh produce stores and delis. And here’s a photo for size context – giant pasta in my Baby Hands…..
Oh – and the other reason San Remo Pappardelle is my pasta of choice for ragu is because it’s an egg pasta. The addition of egg makes the pappardelle stronger so it doesn’t break when tossed in the thick, rich sauce.
If you’ve just invested hours of patience, slow cooking the sauce to tender perfection, you’ll make me cry if you just dump cooked pasta in a bowl and spoon over the sauce. And the entire nation of Italy will cry with me. 😉 Please promise me you will toss the ragu with the pasta before serving! It is worth it, I promise. Look how every strand of the pappardelle is beautifully coated in that luscious ragu!! – Nagi xx
Ragu is one of those recipes that really showcases the beauty of Italian cooking - everyday ingredients, fast prep, leave it to cook long and slow and you end up with a luscious dish that tastes like a million bucks. This ragu sauce is ideal to serve with pappardelle pasta because the shreds of beef "clings" better to the pasta. This recipe is based on classic slow cooked ragu recipes from Italian greats including Lidia Bastianich, Stafano Manfredi. It is not an exact replica of any, but is similar to many! This recipe makes enough sauce to serve 8 and freezes great.
- 2.5 lb / 1.2kg chuck beef or other slow cooking beef cut, cut into equal 4 pieces (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp salt
- Black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil , separated
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 onion , diced
- 1 cup carrots , diced (Note 2)
- 1 cup celery , diced (Note 2)
- 28 oz /800g crushed canned tomatoes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 beef bouillon cubes, crumbled (Note 3)
- 1 cup / 250ml red wine, full bodied (like merlot, cabernet sauvignon), or sub with beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml water (Note 3)
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
- Extra salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 lb /500g dried pappardelle, or other pasta of choice (Note 4)
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese or parmigiano reggiano
- Fresh parsley , finely chopped (optional)
Pat beef dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over high heat in a heavy based pot. Add beef and sear each piece on all sides until browned (around 3 minutes in total), then remove onto a plate.
Turn stove down to medium low and add remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil.
Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and sauté slowly for 5 minutes.
Add remaining Ragu ingredients (except extra salt and pepper) and return the beef to the pot (add the juices too). Turn the stove up and bring it to a simmer, then turn it down to low (Note 7) (see Note 5 for slow cooker and pressure cooker). Cover the pot and let it cook for 2 hours or until beef is tender enough to shred.
Remove beef then coarsely shred with 2 forks. Return beef to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes until sauce is reduced and thickened - beef will soften slightly more during this step.
Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt and pepper. ALSO add a little but of sugar (1/2 tsp at a time!) if it is a bit sour for your taste (Note 6). Place the lid on and set aside until ready to serve (it's even better the next day and freezes well for months!).
Bring a very large pot of water with 1 tbsp of salt to the boil.
Add pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time as per the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, place 5 cups of the Ragu in a very large fry pan, dutch oven or use 2 normal size fry pans. (Note 4) Heat over high heat while the pasta is cooking.
When the pasta is ready, transfer it directly from the pot into the fry pan using tongs.
Add 3/4 cup of pasta water into the fry pan.
Gently toss the pasta (I use 2 wooden spoons) for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce water evaporates and leaves you with a thick Ragu sauce that coats the pasta.
Yell for your family to sit down at the dinner table because you need to serve it immediately!
Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan, or even better, with parmigiano reggiano.
1. Cut the beef into 4 pieces that are around the size of a baseball. The cook time of this recipe assumes you do this. In Australia, you can buy chuck and other slow cooking beef cut into cubes or into thick slices. If you use cubes, reduce the cooking time by 30 minutes, and just be mindful that it takes slightly longer to shred because you're working with lots of pieces of beef. If using thick pre sliced beef, just use them as is and reduce the cooking time by around 15 minutes or so.
2. Celery and carrots sautéed with the onions and garlic is called "soffritto" in Italian cooking. It is a very traditional base for many Italian dishes. Cooking them slowly over low heat releases their flavour and adds an extra dimension to this dish. BUT it is optional! I don't often have celery lying around and also, sometimes I don't have the energy for the extra chopping!
3. You could use liquid beef stock instead of water + stock cubes.
4. Pappardelle pasta is the thick wide pasta and is ideal for this recipe because the shreds of beef cling to the thick pasta strands.
You need a really large fry pan or dutch oven to make this using an entire 1lb/500g packet of pasta because you need the space to toss the sauce and pasta together with the pasta water. This is called "emulsifying" and it is a KEY secret to awesome pastas. Italian Nonna's will roll over in their graves if you don't do this! So if you don't have a large fry pan, do this step in two fry pans. I can't stress enough what a difference emulsifying makes to pastas!
5. To make this in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, make the following recipe adjustments: start on stove per recipe, add wine into the pot before adding any other liquid and let it cook out i.e. simmer rapidly until alcohol smell is gone and liquid has almost evaporated. Proceed with recipe but DO NOT add water. Transfer all into slow cooker (or if your slow cooker has a saute function, you can do it all in the slow cooker). Slow cook on low for 6 - 8 hours (i.e. 6 is enough, 8 hrs is fine, any more = beef turns to mush). Or pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. Shred beef then following recipe.
6. The sweetness of canned tomatoes differs depending on brand (typically more expensive = sweeter). So adjust the sweetness of your sauce to your taste by using sugar - 1/2 tsp at a time.
7. Turn the heat of the stove down to a level where it is bubbling very, very gently - a few bubbles here and there. This usually LOW on Gas Stoves but might be medium low on electric stoves. If it is too high - i.e. simmering rapidly (lots of bubbles appearing rapidly) - then you run the risk of the bottom burning. If it is too low, it will take longer to cook.
8. Beef Ragu Nutrition analysis per serving of pasta with the sauce (assuming 1 packet of pasta + 5 cups of Ragu Sauce serves 6 people, as per the above recipe directions):
Today’s recipe is brought to you with thanks to San Remo. When they asked if I would consider showcasing one of their products in a recipe, it seemed meant-to-be because I wanted to republish this Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu and in fact, I had made the video using San Remo pappardelle pasta before they approached me! I figured it was a sign. ❤️ San Remo is Australia’s most well known pasta brand and is available at supermarkets all around Australia, including the pappardelle I recommend using for this recipe.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Sauce with Pappardelle recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
Pappardelle pup. (Try saying that 10 times real fast after a few glasses of wine.)