Make this comforting mac and cheese with beef ragu, then check out our classic mac and cheese, chorizo mac and cheese, butternut squash mac and cheese and more macaroni cheese recipes.


  • 1 kg beef shin, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned really well
olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml passata
  • a bunch basil, chopped


  • 35g butter
  • 35g plain flour
  • 700ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 200g mature cheddar, grated
  • 100g gruyère, grated
  • 100g emmental, grated
  • 250g macaroni


  • STEP 1

    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 heavy casserole 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.

  • STEP 2

    Once all the beef has browned, tip it back into the casserole 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. Cover the pan with foil 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.

  • STEP 3

    Meanwhile, 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.

  • STEP 4

    Add the mustard powder, cheddar, gruyère, emmental and stir until melted. Season.

  • STEP 5

    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.

  • STEP 6

    Spoon the ragu into a large baking dish. Top with the mac and cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Looking for the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe? Check out our favourite mac and cheese recipes here.

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Janine Ratcliffe Portrait
Janine RatcliffeFood director

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