Prep 20 mins
Cooking 3 hrs
Serves 6

A decent beef ragu, that classic Italian meat sauce for pasta, is just one of our favourite things. And by ‘decent’ we mean something that spent hours in the pot, developing superb beefy flavour. Cheaper cuts that need long cooking like shin, cheek and neck are great for making ragu. In northern Italian cities like Bologna (the home of the ultimate ragu – bolognaise sauce) they tend to go easy on tomato or shun it altogether when making ragu. But we wanted to try our brand new Smokehouse BBQ rub in our ragu, and thought loads of intense tomato is called for in addition to all the beefy richness. So this ragu takes its inspiration from the fabulous southern Italian city of Naples, where there is no such thing as too much tomato! Serve this ragu on rigatoni, with truckloads of freshly grated, well aged parmesan.


  • 500g beef neck
  • 500g beef shin, bone in (or 1kg shin if you are not using neck)
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup very finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup very finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup very finely chopped or grated carrot
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 heaped Tbsp flour
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin water
  • 1 slightly heaped Tbsp Cape Herb & Spice SMOKEHOUSE BBQ SEASONING
  • 8 turns of black pepper
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • cooked rigatoni
  • 1 heaped tsp sugar
  • aged parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste



Start off by frying the neck and shin in batches in the oil until nicely browned. (If you try to fry it all at once, the pan will get too cold and it will not brown). Then remove meat and set aside. Add a splotch more oil if needed to the same pan and add the onions, celery and carrots. Fry over low heat for five minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and fry for a further minute. Then add the flour and stir through until it disappears. Now its time to add the tin of tomatoes. Fill the same tin with water and add that to the pan as well. Return the meat to the pan. Add the Cape Herb & Spice Smokehouse BBQ Spice, black pepper, sugar and rosemary.

This needs incredibly low and slow cooking for a long time. So there are three ways you can go: 1) Place the saucepan on your smallest stove plate, on its lowest setting. 2) Pop it into a 150 ˚C oven in an ovenproof casserole with a lid. 3) Or use your slow cooker, it was made for things like this! If your heat is low enough, the amount of liquid in this recipe will be sufficient, but do check from time to time and add just a teeny splash of extra water if necessary.

Once the meat falls of the bone, use two forks to pull it apart. Now it’s time to taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. It will definitely need some extra salt.

Serve ragu on pasta with loads of freshly grated parmesan and enjoy !


Cook’s notes:

• We used a 50/50 mixture of beef neck and shin. The neck has a superb stringy beef texture while the shin contributes a wonderful extra-rich mouth feel thanks to the marrow in the shin bones. If preferred you could go with 100% shin instead of a mix.

• This ragu freezes incredibly well, perfect for busy weeknights when you just want to throw some pasta in a pot.

More recipe options with this ragu:

• Try this ragu in lasagna instead of your normal mince filling.

• Mix it through with any pasta of your choice, spoon it into an ovenproof dish, top it with a cheese-enriched white sauce/bechamel, top with grated parmesan and place it under the grill to brown.

• Use any leftover ragu to make an insanely decadent toasted-cheese sarmie. Think slices of sour dough or Panini with a filling of ragu and a mix of mozzarella and Emmental cheese. If you don’t have a Panini press, simply go the old-fashioned route and fry it in a non-stick pan with a teeny knob of butter until gloriously crisp and golden both sides.


Recipe concept & photography by Lizet Hartley.

Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at