Slow cooked, tender beef ragu with macaroni and cheese.

I love this time of year, I get more inspired and creative with meals in autumn/winter than through summer when we usually pick a bit and may be throw a salad together!
One of our favourites as a family -
Slow cooked, tender beef ragu with macaroni and cheese.
This takes me about 20 mins to prepare and cooks for 4 hours plus half an hour for the mac and cheese.
This will easily feed 5 a big portion.
It can be cooked in a casserole dish but mine isn't big enough for this recipe so I cook in a roasting tin and triple cover with tin foil so the beef doesn't burn.
I prepare this at lunch time, it just needs finishing off when I come in at tea time!
  • beef shin 1 kg, cut into chunks
  • plain flour 2 tbsp, seasoned really well
  • olive oil
  • onions 2, finely chopped
  • carrots 3, grated
  • star anise 1
  • tomato purée 3 tbsp
  • beef stock 200ml
  • red wine 200ml
  • passata 200ml
  • basil a bunch, chopped


  • butter 35g
  • plain flour 35g
  • whole milk 700ml
  • English mustard powder 1 tsp
  • mature cheddar 200g, grated
  • macaroni 250g

Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Start with the ragu. Toss the beef in the flour and shake off the excess. Heat a little oil in a large heavy base pan (I use my large frying pan) then cook the beef chunks in small batches until they have a good colour on all sides, then scoop them out and do the next batch.
Once all the beef has browned, tip it back into the pan and add the onion, carrot and star anise. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, then stir in the tomato purée. Add the stock, wine and passata and bring to a simmer. Transfer to your casserole dish/roasting tin cover with foil (triple cover the roasting tin) and put on a lid to create a seal. Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours, then check the beef is done – you want it to fall apart easily. If it doesn’t, put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes to an hour. Stir in the basil.
half an hour before the beef is cooked, make the mac and cheese. Melt the butter in a pan then stir in the flour. Keep cooking and stirring for 3 minutes then gradually whisk in the milk to give a smooth sauce (you can use milk and cornflour to thicken of you are short of time).
Add the mustard powder, cheddar and stir until melted. Season.
Turn up the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Cook the macaroni until just al dente then rinse under cold water and drain well. Mix with the cheese sauce.
Spoon the ragu into a large baking dish (or uncover the roasting tin). Top with the mac and cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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