Lip Smacking Ragu

I have to start this with the usual disclaimer that this I don’t claim this to be authentic, so don’t set your Italian nonnas on me. This recipe came out of a chat with an internet friend of mine where we spent a good few hours swapping our favourite methods for creating our best meals and it dawned on me I hadn’t done a “proper” ragu in a long time.

Roasted shin bone

The beauty of this freezer staple is it costs little to make and is so rich a little goes a long way. This batch has done me 6 small portions of lasagne and 3 large portions ready to be defrosted and stirred into pasta. I picked up most of what I needed from my local butcher and grocer, I appreciate this may be difficult for some of you, but a lot of the large supermarkets are doing a great job with their butchers so have a look at them for your shin bones and livers.

The smell of this ragu is amazing, a few hours work for a lot of easy freezer fodder

We are going to be using chicken livers, please do not fear them, they introduce a savoury and almost funky layer to the ragu as well as that aforementioned richness. Feel free to skip them if they squick you out but I implore your to be brave and embrace nose to tail (beak to tail?) eating whilst money is tight.

Also, as a warning, I bunged this together so bear with me on the weights of ingredients, I am not one for weighing things unless I am baking. Also please do add wine if you have it, I didn’t and I wasn’t going to risk catching the ‘rona from someone for the sake of a cheap bottle of red.

Do not tell me this isn’t the most beautiful lasagne you have ever seen

I look forward to seeing your efforts on Twitter’s #PastaMonday hashtag.

You will need

  • 750g beef shin
  • 250g sausage meat (can use packet sausage and take the skins off
  • 4 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 200g chicken livers
  • Half a beef shin bone (my butcher sorted this for me)
  • 2 good-sized onions
  • 2 good-sized carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 6 cloves of garlic (i like garlic, please use less if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 litre of chicken or beef stock, homemade if you can
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • seasoning
  • dried herbs such as parsley and basil


  1. Preheat the oven to around 180c, pop the bone on a tray lined with foil to catch all the goodness and roast for around half hour to an hour. Your house will smell amazing.
  2. Whilst your bone is doing its thing, pop a big pan on the a low to medium heat and sear your beef in at medium heat in batches then remove and put to one side. Do the same with your sausage meat and bacon.
  3. Lower the heat on the pan and using some of the fat drained from your roasting bone, gently sweat your chopped onions, carrot and celery until they’re a bit sticky and translucent. Do not believe anyone that tells you this will take 10 minutes, go low and slow and reap the rewards.
  4. Add your tomato paste and let it cook out gently.
  5. Puree your chicken livers and add to the mix, stirring gently.
  6. Next, add the rest of your meat and your herbs and turn up the heat a little. Get it all coated. Season.
  7. Crush the plum tomatoes and add, then use the stock to swill out the can and add enough that it should cover the meat. Add the sugar.
  8. Finally, add the bone to the mix and bring the mix to a gentle rolling boil.
  9. Turn down the oven to around 120c and pop a lid on the pan. I cooked mine for about 5 hours and checked it every hour after 3 to make sure it wasn’t cooking dry. Use water or any leftover stock to loosen it up if it’s getting too thick.
  10. Once the beef is as soft as butter, remove the bone and set to one side.
  11. Take a potato masher or fork and set to work breaking down the mix, you don’t want it smooth but the beef should be shredding easily.
  12. Leave to cool then potion up as needed. Will freeze well.
  13. I used the bone in the pressure cooker with some water and vegetable peeling to make a hearty beef stock before disposing of.

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