Beef shin ragu


Beef shin ragù

Amazing. Easy. Inexpensive. This recipe will make you look really, really good when you serve it.

‘Ragu’ more or less refers to a slow-cooked meaty sauce (Bolognese is a type of ragu). This beef shin (or beef cheek) version is a sensationally tasty dish, as the cut is packed with flavour. It’s a really easy way to make a rich, flavoursome sauce (and it’s equally as tasty using beef cheeks). I like the way the meltingly tender chunks of meat add a great texture to the sauce too. The sauce freezes well so it’s easy to whip up a quick meal on a week night, or you can use the slow cooker for the ragù during the day and cook the pasta when you get home. I tend to sieve the veges out at the end and serve with freshly steamed veges – there’s not much left to the cooked stuff after 4 hours!

Serves 4-6


Rice bran or grape seed oil, for frying
1-1.5kg Quality Mark beef shin (or use beef cheeks or chuck steak)
50g butter or 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves (or use 1 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
½ cup tomato paste
2 anchovy fillets, minced
1 ¼ cups red wine (or use extra stock)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves

To serve
Cooked pasta (the wider the better), or mash
Fresh Parmesan, grated


Preheat the oven to 140c conventional bake (120c fan bake).

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper all over. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a very high heat, and sear the beef to brown all over (you may need to do this in two batches). Set the beef aside.

Tip the oil from the pan, reduce the heat to medium, add the butter (or olive oil) onion, garlic, celery, carrot and herbs. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Add the tomato paste, anchovies, wine, stock and bay leaf. If your pan is ovenproof, add the beef and its juices back to the pan and cover with the lid or, transfer everything to a covered casserole dish.

Bake in the oven for 3 ½ – 4 hours – the beef should be pulling-apart tender. Remove the meat with tongs and place on a clean board. Remove and discard the bones/skin and pull the beef into small chunks with two forks.

Add the sauce to a saucepan (can you sieve it to remove the veges if you like, for a silkier sauce) and boil it on the stove-top to reduce and thicken it.

Add the meat back into the sauce and season to taste. Toss the meat sauce with the hot pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Chelsea’s tips

  • The red wine add a lovely richness and flavour to this dish ,and you needn’t worry about any alcohol in the finished dish – it all evaporates during cooking. If you would rather not use it, you can just use extra stock instead.
  • Don’t be afraid of the anchovies – you won’t even know they’re there but they add a great savoury, salty depth of flavour.