25/01/2012 11:30 GMT | Updated 25/03/2012 06:12 BST

Fodmap Classics: Beef Ragu

As a foodie, when I first started on a low Fodmap diet, panic set in that I would never again enjoy some of the gorgeous, classic dishes that I had been enjoying and salivating over for years. Since settling into a low Fodmap life it has become my mission to ensure that my life with food is nothing but exciting and includes all of the classics that I could enjoy before. I will be posting all of my classic adaptations experiences here on The Huffington Post. Please note that I am not re-writing the classics, so please don't shout when I omit an onion here or a flavouring there, I am merely adapting them so us Fodmaps and free from people can enjoy a rich varied diet.

Spaghetti Bolognese is a staple in many homes up and down the country. Yet the quick tomato and mince sauce is a poor, shallow distant cousin to the flavoursome Ragû. The word Ragû originates from the French ragoûter, to taste or to revive the taste; a perfect description of a sauce so deep, satisfying and tasty. A Ragû is a slow cooked, dark, concentrated meat sauce, nothing sophisticated about this, it is dirty and decadent and does not apologise for it. It can be the base of many other dishes too, from lasagne, cannelloni, to chilli; even served simply with polenta or mashed potatoes. Ragû can be made with a combination of meats, beef, pork , veal and for a special occasion, chicken livers, by all means experiment to find your favourite but for a staple base I choose to keep it simple with good quality beef. My herb of choice here is Sage, down to its lovely peppery flavour. It is often used in both British and Italian cooking to flavour fatty meats and with its healing properties it is a perfect fit for my Beef Ragû.


Beef Ragû


2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

6 rashers thick cut smoked bacon

1kg Beef Shin, cut into large chunks

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled but kept whole

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

400ml dry red wine

2 bay leaves

Small bunch fresh Sage leaves


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit/gas mark 4.

In a heavy bottomed casserole on the hob heat the rapeseed oil over a medium heat.

Fry the bacon in the oil until it is just cooked and no more, remove from the casserole. Set aside.

Brown the meat off in batches until it is golden brown all over. Set aside.

To the casserole add the carrots, celery and garlic along with the cooked bacon. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, the veg should be softened and beginning to caramelise. (Fodmap note: I leave the garlic whole to infuse the flavour, but they are easily taken out at the end to avoid upset)

Add the tomato puree, stir to coat all the veg and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, wine, bay leaves and sage.

Place the meat back into the casserole.

Top up with water until meat is just covered, should be about 400ml of water.

Heat on hob until just bubbling, then place lid on the casserole and place in the oven for 1 hr.

After the first hour, remove lid, give the Ragû a good stir and then place back in the oven for a further hour without the lid. This allows the excess liquid to evaporate.

At the end of the second hour remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Then you can either remove the meat from the casserole and shred the meat on a plate using two forks. Or as I like to do take the two forks straight into the casserole and shred the meat within the dish itself. I actually quite enjoy this process and the meat is meltingly soft at this point so there is not a lot of effort required.

Serve your Ragû as you wish with a generous sprinkling of fresh parsley. You Fodmaps out there, it goes spectacularly well with mashed potato or my polenta gnocchi.


It goes without saying a good bottle of red wine, a cold, rainy day and an ol' black and white film makes the experience all the more pleasurable.