1. Beef -
Cut the beef into 4 pieces that are around the size of a baseball. The cook time of this recipe assumes you do this.
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's not a deal killer if you skip these ingredients.
3. Beef stock -
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. If you can't find it, just use the widest pasta you can find eg tagliatelle, fettuccine.
Don't skip the step of tossing pasta with the sauce! This is called "emulsifying" and it is a KEY secret to awesome pastas because it makes the sauce cling to the pasta. Italian Nonna's will roll over in their graves if you don't do this! I can't stress enough what a difference emulsifying makes to pastas!
5. Slow Cooker & Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot -
follow recipe to the end of Step 4 on the stove (or sauté function on your appliance). Turn heat up to high, add wine, stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Then transfer it all to the slow cooker or pressure cooker/IP, and add all remaining ingredients but DO NOT add water and extra salt & pepper.
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 follow recipe.
6. Sugar -
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. Low and slow -
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. Recipe source:
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!
9. Storage -
sauce keeps for 5 days in the fridge, or months in the freezer.
10. Beef Ragu nutrition
assuming sauce serves 8. Nutrition includes 80g / 2.7oz dried pasta per serving (standard quantity). Note: recipe as written uses 500g/1 lb pack of pasta which will serve 5 - 6 people.