Beef Ragù

Beef Ragù with Tagliatelle

I love Spaghetti Bolognese and have grown up eating it in that form of minced beef in thick red tomato sauce served on a bed of spaghetti and sprinkling of parmesan cheese. But it was an episode of Jamie Oliver; the one with the kangaroo ragù developed for his restaurant Fifteen that inspired this entry. Ragù just means meat sauce. Instead of using ground beef or mince, I love the idea of using thick, chunky cuts of meat and then stewing them for anywhere between 3 – 6 hours. The meat simply falls apart without the slightest resistance after hours or slow-braising. And you get a robust, rich sauce which is further accentuated with a generous dose of good extra virgin olive oil (my favourite olive oil is still the Fresh and Fruity blend from from Ollo) and eaten with fresh egg pasta. Usually, I add freshly torn basil leaves and chopped flat-leaf parsley to my pasta sauces but with this ragù, I kept it simple with fennel seeds, black peppercorns and just a few bay leaves to complement the meatiness. Well, I cooked this last night and had it tonight. YUM! Rich sauces like this usually taste better the next day.


for the Soffritto (sauce base)
2 1/2 celery stalks – chopped
3 medium sized carrots – chopped
3 brown onions – chopped
8 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil for cooking

other ingredients
1kg beef topside (lean) – cut into thick chunks
5 tomatoes – sliced into wedges
3 cups of red wine ( almost a full 750ml bottle)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
4 bay leaves
2 cups water
1 level teaspoon rock salt ( or adjust to taste)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
shaved parmesan to serve


  1. For the soffritto, heat oil in a heavy-based pot, add garlic and onions and sauté for about 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add chopped celery and carrots and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the beef  and cook for another 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes.
  5. Roughly grind the black peppercorns with a pestle and mortar and add to the meat
  6. Finely grind fennel seeds with pestle and mortar and add to meat.
  7. Pour in the red wine and throw in the bay leaves.
  8. Put a lid on the pot, lower the flame to simmer and let cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  9. After the 2 hour mark, pour in water; season with rock salt and simmer for another 1 hour.
  10. Remove meat from the sauce; shred the meat with a fork (it should flake easily) and return shredded meat to sauce.
  11. Give it a good stir and turn off the stove.
  12. Stir through extra virgin olive oil
  13. Serve with fresh pasta (or any pasta you like) and some shaved parmesan


  • From step 9, you can finish off the sauce in a slow-cooker for another 3 hours.
  • I know this is a no-no in Italian cooking but a little bit of butter stirred through the sauce at the end of cooking, gives it a nice oomph!
  • One might wonder why I use so many carrots, celery and onion for the sauce base and that’s because I love it chunky with bite-sized veggies. If you want a saucier outcome, after step 10, pass the cooked vegetables through a chinois ( a conical sieve) so you get something of a thick puree and return the shredded meat to it.


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1 comment to Beef Ragù

  • Cheng See

    Thx for recipe, really authentic taste. What I did was I simmer it (in very low fire) for 4 hours without adding water with lid on. After that I separate the meat from the broth and reduce the broth (added flour) to thicken the sauce while I shred the beef. Once sauce is sufficiently thick, I add back the meat and let it cook for another 10 minute.

    Mix it with my own hand made pasta. It taste really rustic and original. (I excluded fennel, celery from the ingredients)