A red plate of pasta and ragu, garnished with basil.

Brig’s Bites: Super slow cooker beef ragu

3 mins read

This beef ragu pairs perfectly with gnocchi or pasta, over baked potatoes, wrapped in a tortilla and baked into enchiladas. Using a slow cooker is more energy efficient, and the ragu can be left to cook all day whilst you’re out at uni or work.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours

Skill level: ★ ★ ★ ☆☆

Serves: 4


  • Splash of olive oil
  • 600g beef, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 100g smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 100ml milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml white wine
  • 400ml beef stock
  • Salt, pepper, and caster sugar to taste

Notes on ingredients:

  • I’ve said beef skirt, but any cubes of beef will work – cheap stewing steak from the supermarket is perfect
  • If you want to make it gluten free, use corn flour instead of plain flour
  • You can get fancy by adding pancetta instead of bacon
  • It’s great if you can get fresh rosemary and chop it up nice and fine, but dry from a jar won’t significantly detract and is much easier
  • I don’t usually have white wine in so keep a bottle of white wine vinegar in my store cupboard and use that instead because it adds the same acidity
  • I make beef stock with Knorr stock pots but you can get really fancy with this if you want


Step one: Turn the slow cooker to its lowest setting. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Combine the flour with a good pinch of salt and pepper and dust the beef with it. Over a high heat, cook the floured beef for 4-5 minutes, until it’s nicely browned.

Step two: Set aside the beef and turn the heat down to medium. Add the bacon, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and rosemary and cook until the veg has softened – around 8 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick.

Step three: Pour in the milk and continue to cook until mostly evaporated, then add the tomato puree and stir through for a couple of minutes.

Step four: Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by about half.

A slow cooker filled with beef ragu.
Don’t worry if the ragu looks a bit watery before cooking – it will reduce. Image Credit: Ali Rees

Step five: Add the veg mix, the beef, and the stock to the slow cooker and mix well.

Step six: Leave for around 8 hours. Before serving, taste and add salt, pepper, and caster sugar to taste – a pinch should be enough.

Feature Image Credit: Ali Rees

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