Braised Beef Ragu

braised beef ragu over pappardelle pasta sprinkled lightly with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley

Dinner | January 7, 2018 | By

Braised Beef Ragu ~ slow cooked tender shredded beef in a robust tomato sauce over pappardelle pasta. Delicious Sunday Supper comfort.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, but when your local grocery store has BOGO (buy 1, get 1) chuck roast, make Pot Roast or Braised Beef Ragu ~ slow cooked tender, fall apart beef in a robust tomato sauce over pappardelle egg noodles. It’s Sunday and we’re bringing it all to the table.

Close up of pappardelle pasta with braised beef ragu

I usually cook for the seasons, like Salisbury Steak topped with caramelized onion gravy over a mound of mashed potatoes in the winter, Potato Salad with crispy bacon in the summer or Honey Balsamic Pork Tenderloin an evergreen favorite ~ juicy pork medallions loaded with flavor that goes from stove to table in just 20 minutes.

Braised Beef Ragu makes a great kick back Sunday meal. It takes a few minutes to get it into the oven but once it’s there it’s a slow cruise giving you time to do whatever you feel like and any way you serve it, it’s 100% comfort food.Plate of Braised Beef Ragu and pappardelle egg pasta.

My favorite way is over pappardelle pasta but polenta makes a nice base for it as well or load it up on toasted rolls for a ramped up Sloppy Joe kind of meal, but never, ever confuse Braised Beef Ragu with the Big Ragu, Carmine Ragusa, otherwise known as Shirley’s sweetheart on Laverne and Shirley. Never. Ever.

But I digress.

I love how Braised Beef Ragu takes an inexpensive cut of meat along with a few everyday ingredients and transforms into an elevated dish infused with the most amazing flavor. And it easily feeds a crowd, but in the event you don’t have a crowd (and don’t want a week’s worth of leftovers), the sauce freezes really well.braised beef ragu over pappardelle pasta, a light sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese and parsley served with slices of italian bread

The simple, hearty old-world flavor of Braised Beef Ragu hits the spot especially this time of year. It’s similar to Bolognese but made with red wine instead of white, uses crushed tomatoes in addition to tomato paste and because it’s made strictly with beef chuck (no pork, veal or pancetta like Bolognese), it’s less complicated and more budget friendly.

Braised Beef Ragu Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ pound beef chuck roast (if your roast is larger, cooking time will increase ~ just don’t rush it!)
  • Coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter divided
  • medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in thirds
  • 1 carrot, cut in thirds
  • 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 ½ cups red wine (chianti or cabernet are good, but not sweet red)
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Brown sugar**
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 pound pappardelle pasta
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bringing the beef to room temperature is recommended, but if it’s not room temp when you start, that’s still okay; it just may take a little longer to cook.

Cut the beef into 4 pieces, pat it dry with paper towels, then generously season it on all sides with salt and pepper. I used a good tablespoon of salt to cover all the pieces.

Add the olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to a Dutch oven or large, oven-safe pot over medium high heat and once it’s hot, add the beef searing on all sides and ends reaching a deep golden color then transfer the beef to a plate and reserve.seared beef for braised beef ragu

Tip: It’s important to give the meat time to sear because it adds a valuable level of flavor to both the meat and the sauce.

Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté 5 minutes then add the tomato paste and continue cooking 2 more minutes until you can smell the tomato paste.celery, carrots, onions and herbs sauteing for braised beef ragu

Tip: Don’t just cook to times listed on a recipe. It’s more important to cook to the descriptions.

Pour in the wine scraping the bottom to get all the brown bits off and cook 8 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally or until the wine starts to reduce, then fold in the crushed tomatoes and beef stock.

Tip: Pour in the crushed tomatoes first then measure the stock into the empty tomato can. Give it a swish and you’ll be able to get all of the crushed tomatoes out easier.

Return the beef and their juices to pot, turning them over in the sauce then cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring at the 1 hour point and checking for doneness at 2 hours. You want the beef to be able to shred easily, but not become mushy. 

Remove the pot from the oven and take the beef out of the pot for shredding. Remove the carrots, celery and herbs then continue cooking the sauce on the stovetop 15 more minutes uncovered allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken more while you shred the beef.

Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper.

** Some canned tomatoes aren’t as sweet as others, depending on brand and quality of the tomatoes. If your sauce isn’t as sweet as you’d like, add brown sugar ½ teaspoon at a time, combining thoroughly and tasting after each ½ teaspoon.

shredded beef in braised beef ragu sauce

Using 2 forks shred the beef (I like to leave about 1/3 of it in a bit larger pieces) then add the shredded beef to the sauce along with the other tablespoon of butter and chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions and fold ⅓ cup of pasta water into the sauce cooking 5 minutes over medium heat.

Tip: Add the pasta ‘nests’ to the water whole; they’ll separate as they cook.pappardelle pasta nest for braised beef ragu

Remove about 2 cups of the sauce then add the pasta directly into the remaining sauce in the pot, tossing gently and cook over medium-high heat 2 minutes. 

Adding pasta directly from the cooking pot into the braised beef ragu

Serve right away with extra sauce, fresh bread or a salad and parmesan cheese.tender braised beef in rich tomato sauce ~ slow cooked braised beef ragu

Enjoy with a good red wine and some fresh bakery style bread.

If you make this recipe or another Italian classic, Three Cheese Baked Mostaccioli, leave me a comment~ I’d love to hear from you because silence isn’t always golden ~ especially if there’s a toddler around ~ then silence can be suspicious.

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pinterest pin for braised beef ragu a gouda life

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Plate of Braised Beef Ragu and pappardelle egg pasta.
Braised Beef Ragu

Slow cooked, beef ragu in a robust tomato sauce. Great Sunday Supper. Serve with pasta, red wine and bakery bread.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 ½ pound beef chuck roast if your roast is larger, cooking time will increase ~ don’t rush it!
  • Coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 celery stalk cut in thirds
  • 1 carrot cut in thirds
  • 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 ½ cups red wine chianti or cabernet are good, but not sweet red
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Brown sugar**
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 pound pappardelle pasta
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring the beef to room temperature then cut it into 4 pieces. Pat it dry with paper towels, then generously season it on all sides with salt and pepper (I used a good tablespoon of salt).

  2. Add the olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to a Dutch oven or large, oven-safe pot over medium high heat and once it’s hot, add the beef searing on all sides and ends then transfer the beef to a plate.

  3. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low and saute 5 minutes then add the tomato paste and continue cooking 2 more minutes.

  4. Pour in the wine scraping the bottom to get all the brown bits off and cook 8 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally or until the wine starts to reduce, then fold in the crushed tomatoes and beef stock.

  5. Return beef and their juices to pot, turning them over in the sauce then cover bake at 325 degrees for 2 – 2/12 hours, stirring at the 1 hour point and checking for doneness at 2 hours. You want the beef to be able to shred easily, but before it becomes mushy.

  6. Remove the pot from the oven and take the beef out of the pot for shredding. Remove the carrots, celery and herbs then continue cooking the sauce 15 more minutes (stovetop) uncovered allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken more while you shred the beef.

  7. Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper.

    NOTE: Some canned tomatoes aren’t as sweet as others. If your sauce isn’t as sweet as you’d like, add brown sugar ½ teaspoon at a time, combining thoroughly and tasting after each ½ teaspoon.

  8. Using 2 forks shred the beef (I like to leave about 1/3 of it in a bit larger pieces) then add the shredded beef to the sauce along with the other tablespoon of butter and chopped parsley.

  9. Meanwhile, cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions and fold ⅓ cup of pasta water into the sauce and cook 5 minutes over medium heat.

    Note: Add the pasta ‘nests’ to the water whole; they’ll separate as they cook.

  10. Remove about 2 cups of the sauce then add the pasta directly into the remaining sauce in the pot, tossing gently and cook over medium-high heat 2 minutes.

  11. Serve with the extra sauce, fresh bread and parmesan cheese.

  1. Mary
    January 9, 2018

    Happy 2018!! Goodness gracious, this sounds so darn delicious. Just reading this post makes my tummy feel good. I can almost smell the roast cooking and getting all scrumptious. Pinned. Making soon. Chat later my friend. Have a good week.

    • Bernie
      January 10, 2018

      Hi there Mary ~ Happy 2018 to you too! It sure is a comfort meal! Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to write them. Have a good week, friend. More later 🙂