A delicious beef cheek ragu braised slowly in red wine for a rich and luscious pasta sauce. This beef cheek ragu is so easy to make and will be a definite crowd pleaser for friends and family. I have paired it with a simple pappardelle but it will work with any pasta shape, fresh or dried.
Hi! I am writing up this DELICIOUS beef cheek ragu that you must make immediately. Beek cheeks are a relatively inexpensive cut of beef as they are extremely tough so have to be slow cooked. When made right (like in this recipe!) they really are the most decadent and delicious cut you will ever eat.
As with any classic ragu it pairs well with my easy homemade pappardelle but will work with any shape. You could try my hand rolled gnocci sardi or homemade orecchiette. If you want to try another ragu I would suggest my most favourite recipe ever, my white pork ragu.
Tips for making this ragu
- Make it the day before. This is a tip for any slow cooked pasta sauce. It will only improve with time so even two days before is great. It will solidify in the fridge but will loosen once heated and you can always add a splash of pasta water.
- I like to brown the beef and start the soffrito (the onions, carrot and celery) at the same time so that I can just get it in the oven quicker. Do them at separate times if it seems too hectic! I have two pans at the back browning the beef and the soffrito going at the front.
- Don't tip out any fat that has rendered from browning the pancetta. It's a great flavour base to cook the onion mixture in.
- When you take the beef out to pull it apart you may notice some gelatinous sections, this will just melt into the sauce when you put it back in but feel free to discard it also.
- Undercook your pasta just ever so slightly so that it can hang out in the sauce for a minute or two.
- Pasta gets cold quick, one of my biggest tips when cooking for friends or family is heating your plates or bowls. I throw them in a warm oven for 10mins or you can put a few tablespoons of water in each one, stack them up and microwave for a minute.
Beef cheeks - It's the literally the cheek of a cow and is unlike anything you have had before if you haven't tried them! I find these easily at my local gourmet supermarket (that is Farro for anyone in Auckland). Any butcher should have them though. I buy them in a pack that has three which is the perfect amount for this recipe.
Pancetta - I love using pancetta in the base for any ragu as it imparts such a delicious salty smokiness. I like to use thick cut pancetta than you cut into tiny cubes. If that is hard to find you can substitute with regular bacon, I like to use streaky.
Herbs - Please use fresh! It really makes a big difference.
Red wine - Honestly use whatever you like, preferably something full bodied like a merlot or cab sauv but not a major. It can be cheap, noone will tell the difference!
Lemon - If you have made any of my recipes before it won't surprise you to see lemon in the ingredients. It adds such a fresh zing to any sauce. Adding lemon zest on top of the finished dish takes any meat ragu to a whole other level. PLEASE trust me on this!
Why I love making any kind of slow cooked ragu
I mean the top reason is just pure deliciousness! I actually just love how simple it is. It follows a fairly generic formula. You brown the meat, cook down an onion mixture, add some wine, stock and then whack it in the oven for a few hours. The oven does all the work for you.
The other amazing thing about a meat sauce is that it is so versatile! You could serve this with pasta, mashed potato (or any mashed vege for that matter!) or polenta. You can freeze leftovers easily and you could even use it for a ravioli filling or a lasagne.
What pasta shape is best for a meat sauce?
Ummmm...anything!! I have used my easy homemade pasta dough (which is perfection) to make some homemade pappardelle. Use any pasta shape you like, fresh or dried. I like to weigh out portions and allow 100 grams dried per person or 150 grams fresh.
They are literally the face cheeks of a cow. It's a well used part of the cow with all the chewing they do so it's a tough piece of meat. When slow cooked it really is the most tender and delicious part of the animal there is. Ask your butcher for them if you can't find them.
If you can't find beef cheeks you could use beef short ribs or even some chuck steak (stewing steak).
I always try and make any meat sauce the day before as the flavours develop so much. You can also freeze this easily. Wait for it to cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Want some other recipes to try?
If you loved this beef cheek ragu then put my white pork ragu on your list ASAP! Another slow cooked meat sauce you must make is my best bolognese sauce. For something much quicker my sausage pasta bake is seriously delicious.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print