Braised Beef Ragu ~ tender, shredded beef in a rich tomato sauce made with every day ingredients. Serve over pappardelle or gnocchi. Fast prep, slow cooked. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese. A million dollar holiday recipe.When the local grocery store has BOGO beef chuck roasts, I stock up. There’s a lot you can do with them, like Pot Roast or this Braised Beef Ragu.
Tender beef slow cooked in a robust tomato sauce. Serve it blended with pappardelle egg noodles or gnocchi. There’s no wrong answer there. Fresh bread is a must though . . . and fresh grated parmesan cheese on top.
If you’ve already checked the turkey and ham boxes at Thanksgiving, consider this Braised Beef Ragu for the upcoming holiday.
Cooking for the seasons:
I like to cook for the seasons, like Salisbury Steak with mushroom-onion gravy this time of year, Potato Salad with crispy bacon in the summer or Honey Balsamic Pork Tenderloin that whips up in just 20 minutes all year long and happens to be one of the most popular recipes on the blog several years running.
Braised Beef Ragu takes just minutes to prep and then it’s hands off for 100% comfort. I love that it takes an inexpensive cut of meat and transforms it into a delicious, elevated dish. It easily feeds a crowd but if there’s leftover sauce, it freezes well, too.
What’s in Braised Beef Ragu?
- beef chuck roast
- Coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
- olive oil
- fresh rosemary
- fresh sage
- red wine
- crushed tomatoes
- tomato paste
- beef stock
- Brown sugar**
- Italian parsley
- pappardelle pasta
- parmesan cheese
How to make Braised Beef Ragu:
Cut the beef into 4 pieces then trim any excess fat. Pat the beef 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 then add the beef searing on all sides. It’s important to give the meat time to sear because it adds flavor to both the meat and the sauce.
Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and sage then reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste then continue cooking 2 more minutes to let the tomato paste caramelize for another layer of flavor.
Pour in the wine scraping the brown bits from the bottom then cook 5 minutes on medium heat to reduce the wine then fold in the crushed tomatoes and beef stock.
Return the beef and all their juices to pot, turning them over in the sauce then cover and bake at 325° for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
At the one hour point, stir the Ragu then check for doneness after 2 hours of cook time. You want the beef to be able to shred easily with two forks, but not mushy.
Finishing the Ragu:
Take the pot out of the oven then remove the beef, carrots, celery and herbs. Continue cooking the sauce on the stove top 15 more minutes uncovered so the sauce reduces and thickens.
Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper. Because some canned tomatoes aren’t as sweet as others you may need to add brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, combining thoroughly and tasting after each ½ teaspoon.
Using two forks shred the beef leaving some of it in larger pieces then add it to the sauce along with the remaining butter and parsley.
Best pasta to serve with Ragu:
This Braised Beef Ragu is delicious will pretty much all kinds of pasta, but I really like pappardelle. The wide, flat strands that gives the beef and rich sauce something to cling to.
If you tried this Braised Beef Ragu recipe or another Italian classic, Three Cheese Baked Mostaccioli, then I’d love to hear from you with a comment or star rating!
Braised Beef Ragu
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour in the wine scraping the bottom to get all the brown bits off and cook 5 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally or until the wine starts to reduce, then fold in the crushed tomatoes and beef stock.
- Return beef and their juices to pot, turning them over in the sauce then cover bake at 325 degrees for 2 – 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 before it becomes 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 15 more minutes (stovetop) uncovered allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken more while you shred the beef.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve with pappardelle or gnocchi cooked according to package directions along with fresh bread or salad and fresh parmesan cheese.