You can use any cut of braising beef that you wish to in this recipe, such as oxtail, which I’ve used with excellent success in the past. I’ve used beef shin on the bone here, which is essentially the shank of beef cut transversely across, giving you a large piece of beef with a centre bone. This is an excellent cut of beef for stewing as it has lots of connective tissue which melts away in slow cooking, leaving deliciously tender and flavoursome beef which falls away from the bone. The marrow in the centre of the bone also melts away during cooking, further enhancing the mouth watering moreish comfort of this ragù. The best part of this dish is that the oven really does most of the work. There are only a few simple ingredients that require a little effort but the most important and key element here is time. This is weekend, put it in the oven, watch a Saturday matinee, lazy sort of food. I’ve spoken before in my Bolognese recipe about the importance of giving time in cooking. Give it here; you’ll be grateful that you did.
Shredded Beef Shin Ragu
When it comes to the wine there’s no need to break into the cellar for the most expensive vintage bottle but do use one that you would drink yourself. As I’ve spoken about before, the final result of your dish is the sum of the original ingredients that go into it. The wine, and the flavour that it brings, is a big component of this recipe so it’s worth going with something decent.
Just a few simple ingredients mixed with patience
Left: Beef shin on the bone, and Right: Searing in a hot pan gives excellent colour and flavour
- Olive oil
- 1.5kg beef shin on the bone, in approx. 3 slices
- 2 large carrots finely diced
- 2 large onions finely diced
- 2 sticks celery finely diced
- 2 x 400g tins tomatoes
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed from the woody stalks and finely chopped
- 1tbsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 x Knorr rich beef stockpot (or other beef stock cube)
- ½ bottle of red wine
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Note: When browning off the beef, treat it like a steak. A searingly hot pan, oil the meat, season generously, and cook for 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan here, so you may need to do it in batches. Overcrowding the pan will reduce the temperature of the pan too much, causing the meat to sweat rather than fry. What you are looking for is a nice colour on the meat; colour is flavour and will add to the overall end result of this ragù.
A deliciously rich and comforting ragù
- Preheat oven to 150°C Fan, 325°F, Gas Mark 3
- Place a large frying pan on a high heat until very hot. Rub the beef in olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Fry the “steaks” for 3 minutes on each side. See note for further instructions. Set aside.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery, and herbs to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté gently for 5-7 minutes. Place into a casserole dish.
- Place the frying pan back onto the hob, turn the heat to high and pour in the wine, deglazing the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any residue at the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine into the casserole dish with the vegetables and herbs.
- Add the tins of tomatoes and stockpot and stir through. Rinse one of the empty tomato tins with water, filling it up and add also to the sauce. Place the slices of beef shin into the casserole dish making sure they are covered in the liquid. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
- Remove from the oven, take off the lid, and let cool for a few minutes. Carefully remove the beef to a dish. Don’t be worried if it’s falling apart, it will be very tender and should be. The bones should easily fall away. Push through any marrow that might still remain in the bone and add to the sauce. Remove any large pieces of fat or sinew that remain and discard along with the bones.
- Add the meat back to the casserole and using two forks gently shred the beef until the sauce comes together and all the beef is shredded.
- Serve with a pasta of your choice such as large tubes like rigatoni or a large flat pasta like pappardelle.
Serve with pasta and top with fresh basil and lashings of grated Parmesan