This rustic Italian Beef Ragu requires minimum skill or effort as it is made easily in a slow cooker. Use it with spaghetti or in lasagna and freeze the rest!


3-4 lbs beef roast the cheapest cut will do

2 tbsp olive oil

2-3 sprigs handful each fresh rosemary and fresh thyme stems discarded and leaves finely chopped

1 small red onion peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped

1 carrot peeled and finely chopped

1 celery stick finely chopped

375ml/ 1 ½ cups red wine such as Chianti

3x400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes crushed tomatoes for North America

2 tablespoons pearl barley optional

1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

500 gr fresh or dried pappardelle pasta or rigatoni

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish


Chop onion, carrot and celery, mince garlic and chop rosemary and thyme and put everything on the bottom of a crock pot.

Cut roast into 2"-3" cubes and brown them in olive oil in a frying pan over high heat in stages, don't overcrowd the meat so it browns nicely. Add it to the vegetables.

Off the heat pour wine into the frying pan and use wooden spoon to loosen all the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan, that's where much of the flavour is concentrated. Pour the wine into the crock pot along with canned tomatoes.

Sprinkle barley all over, which will add texture and more flavour to your ragu, not to mention fibre and nutrients.

Add a teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

In the last hour take the lid off and shred the beef with two forks, add one more tablespoon of fresh rosemary and thyme and a splash of water or wine if the meat is too dry.

Cook for one hour longer.

At the end of cooking time stir in butter for more flavour and to add a gloss to your ragu.

Before serving cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.

Combine ⅓ of beef ragu with hot pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Freeze the rest of ragu for later use.