Slow cooker beef ragu

Warm up and try this slow cooker beef ragu served with gnocchi and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

6

15m

4h 20m

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 600g Coles Australian No Added Hormones Gravy Beef
  • 6 pancetta slices, finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup (250ml) dry red wine
  • 2x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbs finely chopped oregano
  • 2 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 500g Coles Potato Gnocchi
  • Shaved parmesan, to serve

Method

STEP 1

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the beef and cook for 2 mins each side or until brown all over. Transfer to a slow cooker.

STEP 2 

Add pancetta, onion, carrot, celery and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until onion softens. Add wine. Bring to the boil. Cook for 2 mins or until liquid reduces by half. Pour the mixture over the beef in the slow cooker. Add tomato, bay leaves, oregano and thyme.

STEP 3

Cook, covered, for 4 hours on high (or 6 hours on low) or until the beef is very tender. Use tongs to transfer the beef to a bowl. Coarsely shred. Return the beef to the slow cooker. Season.

STEP 4 

Cook gnocchi in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain. Divide among serving bowls. Spoon over ragu. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Ragu recipe

When you’re thinking of all the slow cooked beef recipes you can make, beef ragu should be high on your list. This Italian meat sauce is amazing tossed through cooked pasta for a crowd-pleasing family dinner. A slow cooked beef ragu is a step up from the classic bolognaise sauce made with mince. This is cooking to take your time over, filling your kitchen with delicious aromas as tougher cuts of beef simmer gently in a rich tomato and red wine sauce. It’s ready when the meat is tender enough to fall apart into shreds, all the better to fold through fresh pasta or gnocchi, or spoon over a plateful of soft polenta.

Make this easy ragu sauce in your slow cooker

While you can simmer a ragu sauce in a casserole pan on the stovetop or in the oven, we think the best method for beef ragu is the slow cooker method. Cooking in your slow cooker keeps the heat very low so you don’t boil the beef, which can make it tough. Once all the ingredients are in the slow cooker you can simply leave it on high for 4 hours (or on low for 6 hours), rather than having to come back and stir to stop the ragu from catching on the base of the pan. 

If you’re using a slow cooker for this ragu recipe you will also need a frying pan for browning the beef, pancetta and vegetables and deglazing the pan with wine before adding everything to the slow cooker. Some slow cookers have a flameproof removable bowl or a browning function to make this step easier and cut down on clean up. The stovetop version can be done all in one casserole pan for a one-pot sauce, ready to serve with your favourite sides.

Tips and tricks for an authentic ragu bolognese sauce

Choosing the right cut of meat can make a big difference to the flavour and texture of your ragu. This slow cooker beef ragu recipe is made with gravy beef, also known as beef shin. This great-value cut is full of flavour but needs long slow cooking to break down and become tender. If you can’t find gravy beef, an easy alternative cut for this beef ragu recipe is to use chuck steak.

For the best flavour, brown the beef first in a frying pan over medium-high heat before transferring to your slow cooker. This gives a richer colour and flavour to the finished dish. This ragu recipe uses Italian-style pancetta together with onion, carrot and celery to create an authentic flavour base for the sauce. After browning these ingredients, add red wine to the pan and cook until the liquid reduces – this is known as deglazing and it helps to release extra flavour that has cooked onto the base of the pan.

The combination of dried bay leaves and fresh oregano and thyme adds lots of flavour to this beef ragu recipe. If you only have dried herbs, reduce the quantity to 1 tsp oregano leaves and ½ tsp thyme leaves.

How to serve this beef ragu recipe

When the beef is very tender, remove it from the sauce and coarsely shred the meat – it’s easiest to do this using 2 forks to gently pull the beef apart. Then return the shredded beef to the sauce so it’s ready to serve. We’ve served the beef ragu with gnocchi, which is quick and easy to cook – just add the gnocchi to boiling water and when it floats to the surface, it’s ready. All you need to add is some shaved parmesan and basil leaves for freshness. Beef ragu is also great served with any fresh or dried pasta or spooned over soft polenta. This Italian ragu recipe also makes a perfect base for other family favourites including lasagne and Italian-style cottage pie.

Now get cooking

Whip up this easy ragu sauce in your slow cooker and serve it with fresh gnocchi for a mouth-watering meal. Or go for tagliatelle and spice up the sauce with red chillies like in our tagliatelle with beef ragu recipe. Want more Italian recipe ideas? Make lamb shank ragu with pappardelle, serve pork ragu on creamy polenta or turn mushroom ragu into lasagne. Plus, find more Italian inspiration in our slow cooker recipes collection. If you need a speedy shortcut, grab ready-made ragu from Coles and make beef ragu with polenta or our delicious beef ragu bake – it’s a great way to use up leftover homemade ragu, too.

Nutrition Information

Per Serve

Energy: 1819kJ/435 Cals (21%)

Protein: 31g (62%)

Fat: 16g (23%)

Sat fat: 5g (21%)

Carb: 30g (10%)

Sugar: 5g (6%)

Fibre: 6g (20%)

Sodium: 955mg (48%)

 

 

FAQs

  • How to store ragu?
    Cool any leftover beef ragu and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat before serving.

  • Can I freeze ragu?
    Freeze the cooled beef ragu in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat as above.

  • Can I make this beef ragu without a slow cooker?
    Start the recipe in a flameproof casserole pan or large saucepan and simmer over low heat for 21/2-3 hours or until the beef is very tender.

  • Can I make this recipe with lamb or pork?
    For a lamb ragu, swap the beef for any lamb cut suitable for slow cooking, such as lamb shanks or lamb shoulder. You’ll need about 500g boneless lamb or 4 lamb shanks to serve four. For a pork ragu, use 500g pork shoulder or scotch. 

  • Can I make this ragu recipe without pancetta?
    If you don’t have pancetta, swap it for bacon.

  • What kind of red wine should I use for ragu?
    Any dry red wine is ideal for cooking beef and varieties that go well with beef include cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and malbec. You could also use a lighter red such as pinot noir or an Italian variety such as sangiovese. Wine gives the ragu a richer flavour but if you don’t want to add alcohol, replace it with beef or chicken stock.

  • What if the mixture isn’t thick enough at the end of cooking?
    If you’d like a thicker sauce, try removing the meat from the sauce and putting the sauce back on the heat to reduce. You can do this by simmering on the stovetop or setting the slow cooker to high with the lid off. 

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.