Homemade ragu

Homemade beef mince ragu. I’d say a mince ragu is the simplest, quickest style of meat ragu. This is a typical weekly recipe that I make so I thought I would actually measure it all out, capture the process and share the recipe with you guys…but honestly sometimes I just use more or less of something and whatever I have (I love that about ragu!) It’s a practical recipe that once made, it can be used to add to gnocchi, or pre made packet pasta, or homemade pasta. Today I made the time to make this with Farfalloni pasta. I will post the recipe for that in a separate post so that you can easily follow it and you can serve that type of pasta with other various sauces as well. But if you don’t have the time to make pasta from scratch, use this sauce on any other packet pasta! I love it with a classic spaghetti or rigatoni.

A ragu is just a general term in Italian for any sort of meat sauce. On other days I use various beef cuts that are great for slow cooking, and my ultimate favourite is a slow cooked sauce with duck. But that is a more complex recipe as a whole duck is needed which I break down and slow cook – that is for special occasions and normally I serve that with gnocchi and only gnocchi! So i’ll save that recipe for another day.

I figured that since my husband is Italian, I had to get pretty decent at making a ragu – which wasn’t hard as I loveeeeeee to make slow cooked meat sauces.

A ragu is a great way to use up some extra bits and pieces in the kitchen. So don’t worry if you have slightly less carrot, or more celery..just use it and balance it out with the seasoning of salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar (if you like). I’d say the sugar depends on what kind of passata you use..each brand uses various sources of tomaoes. Tomatoes that are grown from all parts of Italy, are produced differently, and grown in different soils. So the natural sugars that are present in the tomatoes will vary. The added touch of sugar does make a difference but it’s such a tiny detail, that I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you’re trying to avoid it, so add the touch of sugar if you like..or not!

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, I let the ragu cook for approximately 1 hour, you can give it slightly less time if you want to eat it quickly, because it’s mince meat that we are using, it doesn’t need to be cooked for a few hours like lets say duck meat or other cuts of beef need, so it’s forgiving if you want to eat it in 30 minutes! Cook it on a low heat and you will have a beautiful outcome. If you find that at the very end of the cooking time, your sauce is too watery (which it most likely won’t be as the ratios below create a nice medium thick sauce), then just remove the lid, turn the heat on high and let the water evaporate through the steam for 5 or so minutes, stirring often. If it’s too thick for your liking, then add a little bit of water in or add the pasta water in, as I normally do.

I turn to this recipe on a weekly basis…it’s so practical and you can also use it in in wraps, on top of some rice, with toast and melted cheddar on top or with some potato puree – whatever you would like to use! This quantity provides us with a few meals, so on the first night I would serve this with pasta, the day after maybe just a spoonful or so each in a wrap and so on. I store it in containers in the fridge but sometimes in the freezer too.

I hope you love it and it becomes part of your weekly cooking routine too!

*Composting Tip*

When you prepare all of your ingredients, place all the leftover and excess leaves, onion skins and etc into a bowl that you can later add to your compost.

*Cooking tip*

Save your parmesan rinds for cooking and use them in stews and ragus! Once you get to the end of your parmesan, place the rind into a container or wrapping and store in the fridge until you have the opportunity to use it!

Recipe for homemade ragu 

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes total


400g beef mince (you can also use any other type of mince like pork or lamb..or do half and half if you like)

1/3 cup of olive oil

1 x onion (peeled and very finely diced)

1 x garlic (peeled and lightly crushed with a knife over the top and kept whole OR for lots of garlic flavour, crush it into a paste)

1 x celery stalk (finely diced, any leaves removed and put into compost)

1 x carrot (end removed, finely diced) (i don’t peel the carrot)

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/4 of a nutmeg (you can grate this amount directly into the mixture)

1/2 cup red wine

700g passata (plus a splash of water into the jar of passata to clean out the leftover passata on the walls of the jar/can)

pinch of chilli flakes

1 pinch or a teaspoon max of raw sugar (optional)

4 dried sprigs of oregano (or fresh or 1 tbsp of dried oregano) – optional

1 x parmesan rind (optional)

salt and pepper


  1. Place a large heavy bottom pan or a large pot onto your stove top and turn the heat to high. Add the olive oil. Warm the oil gently and slightly (don’t let it come to smoking point) and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, rosemary and bay leaf, and mix it all through the olive oil. Cook the veggies and herbs for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  2. After 10 minutes or so, they should look like they have softened. Use a wooden spoon or any kitchen utensil that you’re using, to move the vegetable mix to one side of the pan. Add the beef mince onto the other side of the pan and use your spoon to break the mince apart including any larger pieces that are stuck together. Begin to combine the mince and vegetables together. Cook this mixture on a high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Use a microplane or any fine grater to grate/add the nutmeg directly over the mixture (adding more if you like). Give a stir to the meat mixture as it catches to the pan and begins to darken and cook through well, keeping the high heat. Once there is practically no liquid left from the mince and it’s cooked through, add the red wine. Let the wine soak into the mix, and the alcohol evaporate through the steam on a super high heat. Stir occasionally.
  4. Once the wine has mostly soaked in to the meat and veggies, add all of the passata, and fill the jar with splash of water, swivel it around to catch the leftover passata from the edges of the jar and add in to the mix.
  5. Season with salt (2 large pinches approx – don’t over salt it though – you can always add more later), the pepper, the chilli flakes, and add in the sugar (if you’re using it, a small pinch or 1 teaspoon of sugar goes a long way and balances out the flavours beautifully). Add in the parmesan rind and the dried oregano (or other leftover herbs that you might have – if you want use something up thats going to waste, this is a good moment to add it in!). Stir everything through really well, close with a lid, and reduce the heat to a very low heat. Cook for 1 hour (you can cook for less time if you’re in a rush, but do give it at least 30 minutes). Check in on the ragu throughout the hour and give it a stir if you wish (but it can be left alone if it’s on a very low heat). After the hour, taste and adjust with salt if you like. Remove any large sprigs/leaves/the parmesan rind etc and then it’s ready to serve! Serve with your favourite pasta and save the rest in containers (if you have any leftover).

Serving tip:

Serve this with your preferred fresh pasta straight away by mixing the ragu and pasta in a cooking pan or a bowl. Add in a bit of the leftover pasta water that you use to cook your pasta for a bit of extra liquid if needed.

If you are warming up the ragu the next day or any time after storing it in the fridge, I recommend adding a splash of water to help heat it up smoothly without catching to the pan.


Freezable and storable in containers in the fridge and in the freezer.






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