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Pulled Beef Ragu, Homemade Pappardelle, Garlic Doughballs

Pulled Beef Ragu, Homemade Pappardelle, Garlic Doughballs

This is an upgraded version of spaghetti bolognese made with diced beef chunks instead of mince; slow cooked in an Italian tomato sauce until the beef is tender and falling apart. Served with homemade Pappardelle, it makes for a more sophisticated version of Spag Bol, which incidentally is one of my least favourite meals. This, however, turns it up a notch delivering softer beef and better flavour! One of my new favourites.

Serve with my Homemade Garlic Doughballs, better than any garlic bread you can buy! The easiest way to make them is in a bread maker. You can purchase a bread maker pretty cheaply and it makes the most amazing homemade bread. I highly recommend one. You can see my link below for a recommended one. 

If you have never made homemade pasta before, Pappardelle is the easiest shape to make. It can be done by hand and I have the instructions for hand-making the pasta below, but I highly recommend purchasing a pasta maker for easier, silkier and tastier pasta. 


Difficulty Level: Home Cook



For the Pulled Beef Ragu:

  • 1 pack of diced beef (usually around 400g)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • A couple of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 300ml white wine
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Parmesan wedge
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Pappardelle:

  • 200g ’00’ plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Olive oil
  • Teaspoon salt

For the Garlic Doughballs:

  • 240ml water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 1 packet of dried instant yeast (7g)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • For the butter:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • 50g butter
  • Tablespoon dried parsley


1. For the beef: drizzle a little olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, dried oregano, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes on a medium heat until the onions are beginning to soften.

2. Add the beef and turn the heat up, allowing to brown all over. Add the garlic and tomato purée and stir, cooking for a couple of minutes more.

3. Add the white wine and fresh thyme sprigs and bubble for a minute or so before adding the chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty tin with water and add that too.

4. Cut the end off the Parmesan wedge (the hard bit you don’t eat) and add this to the pan. This adds an amazing savoury depth of flavour.

5. Season with plenty salt and pepper and turn down the heat to low. Cook with a lid on for around 2 hours until the beef is soft and tender and the sauce has reduced. You may need to remove the lid for the last half an hour to allow the sauce to thicken up.

For the Pappardelle:

1. Use a food processor to whiz the ingredients together into a dough. Lightly knead for a couple of minutes and chill for 30 minutes.

2. If you don’t have a food processor, place the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well for the egg, egg yolk and oil. Use a fork to draw in the flour and mix together into a dough. Knead for a couple of minutes and then chill for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the pasta dough from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll into a small rectangle.

4. If you have a pasta machine, run the pasta through the lowest setting, remove and then fold in half. Repeat this step for 4 or 5 times. This makes the dough softer and smoother. Then run the dough through each setting until you get your desired thickness (I have 9 settings and like the thickness of number 7 for pappardelle) if the dough becomes too long to handle, simply cut into manageable lengths and roll each length individually.

5. If you don’t have a pasta machine, and highly recommend you get one if not, roll out the small rectangle to double its size. Fold in half and roll out again. Repeat this four or five times. Then roll out the dough as thinly as possible. It may be best to cut it in half or into three parts to roll easier. As a guide, think of the thickness of dried Tagliatelle.

6. Cut the the pasta to your desired length. Dust each rectangle with a little flour and roll into a rough cylinder. Cut into strips 1 1/2 inch wide and unroll. Hang over anything you can find to dry out slightly. I used a cookbook stand and a rolling pin on top of a bowl.

Link to my recommend pasta machine:
For the garlic doughballs:

  1. If you have a bread maker, tip all the ingredients into it in the order above and cook on the dough setting. (Takes around 2 hours)
  2. If you don’t have a bread maker, measure all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (ensure you don’t allow the yeast and salt to touch). Mix together.
  3. Heat the water in the microwave until it’s warm to touch. Add the oil to the water and then gradually add to the dry ingredients, mixing with your hand in a downward facing claw.
  4. When it comes together as a dough, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until soft, smooth and elastic.
  5. Add to an oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm place for around an hour until doubled in size. (This could also be done the night before and proved in the fridge overnight)
  6. Meanwhile, make the butter. Add the garlic cloves and garlic to a pestle and mortar and bash to a paste. Add the butter and parsley and mix together. Put in the fridge until ready to use.
  7. Remove the dough from the bread maker, or the bowl, and knock out the air.
  8. Shape the dough into balls (will make around 15). Place a lump of dough in your hand, flatten and add a teaspoon garlic butter. Using your other hand, pull the edges around the butter and twist into a ball shape in your hand.
  9. Place each ball on a lightly oiled baking tray. Melt the remaining garlic butter and use a pastry brush to spread over the balls.
  10. Heat the oven to 180C, cook the garlic doughballs for around 20-30 minutes until golden.

Link to my recommended bread maker:

When the Ragu is ready:

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for just one minute. Lift the pasta out with tongs into the sauce. Doing this allows the pasta to retain some of the cooking water, emulsifying the sauce and enhancing the dish. You may not need all the pasta!!
  2. Remove the Parmesan wedge and check the seasoning of the sauce.
  3. Serve in bowls with shavings of Parmesan, a grind of black pepper and the garlic doughballs on the side.


  • Instead of garlic butter Doughballs , make them with a sun dried tomato, anchovy and parsley butter: in a food processor blitz 5 sun dried tomatoes and 2 anchovies or use a pestle and mortar to crush to a paste. Add 50g butter and a tablespoon of dried parsley.
  • Use diced pork instead of beef.
  • Use dried Tagliatelle instead of homemade pasta.