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Italian beef ragu

Italian beef ragu richly flavoured, once prepared slow cook and leave the oven to do the hard work!

Italian beef ragu is one of those great dishes I like to cook during the colder Winter months. January like no other month in the calendar is the one where we all seek comfort and warmth from our food. Short days and slow cooked meals making the perfect the dinner.

This Italian beef ragu dish is one such dish. It is quick to pull together, more an assembly job than anything else. Then the whole dish is popped into the oven where it is left stewing for a few hours. This leaves you time to get on with other things and nothing beats coming in from the cold to a kitchen warm with the smell of a hot stew cooking in the oven.

gnocchi with beef ragu

This Italian beef ragu is inspired by a dish my husband and I ate on our honeymoon in Venice. We sat enjoying this dish of gnocchi on a gloriously warm day in May! The gnocchi was coated, rather than swimming, in sauce.

We were sat aside a canal in Venice enjoying a very lazy day and the most glorious bowl of gnocchi I’ve ever eaten! Soft pillows of fresh gnocchi with a light coating of ragu sauce, just enough to give you the taste, but not so much as to overload the dish. I’ve often thought of that dish and wanted to recreate it.

Can I make any substitutions to this Italian Beef recipe?


When we ate this dish in Venice, they used lamb as the base meat, something like lamb shoulder would work perfectly. I’ve used beef as that’s what my family prefer to eat. However, this recipe works equally well with either beef or lamb.

I have used beef brisket for this Italian beef ragu dish as that’s what I had in the freezer. However, you can substitute with any other cuts that are suitable for slow braising: shoulder; chuck; and rib trim would all work in this dish.


The mushrooms used in this Italian beef stew add a lovely depth of flavour to the finished sauce. That said my family complain, they don’t really like mushrooms. Now you can leave them out. However, what I would recommend instead, is to leave them in but cut them chunky. That way if anyone doesn’t want to eat them they are easily picked out!

What can I serve with this stew?

Whilst this dish goes very well with gnocchi, it works equally well with some pasta. However, it is essentially a stew, therefore if you want to serve it alongside some steamed vegetables and saute potatoes, that would work very well too.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

As is the case with most stews, this Italian beef ragu is a great make ahead dish. Make up to 2 days before you plan to eat it. Simply cook the ragu and allow it to cool, before covering and placing it in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy it.

Great for feeding a crowd!

I always think that stews and ragu’s are great for feeding a larger group of friends and family. Make the ragu the day before, ready to heat up when your guests arrive and serve alongside some gnocchi or pasta and some steamed vegetables or crispy salad. This sauce will happily feed 8 people, but double it up and you can feed a crowd.

If you don’t have a pan big enough, split it into two separate pans to cook at the same time.

Can I freeze this dish?

This beef ragu freezes really well. Simply cook it, allow it to cool completely and place in a suitable container and pop into the freezer. This beef stew will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.

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Additional recipe suggestions:

If you like this dish then try some of our slow cooked beef dishes:

Looking for inspiration for feeding the family mid week, then take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Family Dinners. Full of useful hints, tips and recipes.

beef ragu gnocchi

Italian Beef Ragu

An Italian inspired slow cooked beef ragu, prepare quickly and leave the oven to do the hard work.
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 326kcal


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 g pancetta (diced)
  • 2 large onions (sliced)
  • 2 carrots (sliced)
  • 2 sticks celery (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms (sliced)
  • 200 ml white wine
  • large bunch flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dsp dried oregano
  • 750 g beef brisket (or similar cut for slow braising)
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 200 ml beef stock
  • salt & pepper


  • Heat the olive oil, over a medium heat, in a large oven proof casserole and add the diced pancetta and saute until crispy.
  • Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and sauté gently for 5 minutes to soften, but not colour.
  • Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and stir for a minute, before adding the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add in all the remaining ingredients to the casserole, season well with salt and pepper, stir well to combine and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  • Place the casserole in a preheated oven at 140CFan and cook for 4-5 hours. Stir the ragu throughout the cook to ensure it does not stick. The stew is cooked when the meat is tender and falling apart.
  • Delicious served with gnocchi, you want the ragu to coat the pillows of gnocchi, rather than sitting in large chunks on top.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Beef Ragu
Amount Per Serving
Calories 326 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 74mg25%
Sodium 304mg13%
Potassium 567mg16%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 2555IU51%
Vitamin C 3.1mg4%
Calcium 26mg3%
Iron 2.2mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Italian
Keyword : autumn, slow cooked, winter
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Recipe Rating

Kirsty Hijacked By Twins

Monday 8th of May 2017

Beef ragu is a family favourite here! We all love it and this one sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x