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Oven Baked Beef Shin Ragu

Serves 4 as an Entrée or 8 as a First Course

Beef shin is a tough cut of meat also called the shank and is cut from the front lower leg of a steer. It needs to cook slowly in order to tenderize it and bring out its delicious flavor. Some people braise it in a small amount of liquid for a long time and Nonna Saporito used it to make a flavorful beef soup. I oven cook it with onions, pancetta and tomatoes to make a ragu for short cuts of pasta like ziti. It is equally delicious mixed into rice, lentils and as a sauce for polenta. I start the preparation on the stovetop and finish it in the oven.

Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups ragu sauce


2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste*

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Grinding black pepper

1 1/4 pounds beef shin (center cut)

One 28-ounce can pureed plum tomatoes

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons fresh minced basil


In a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty ovenproof casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onions and cook until the pancetta renders its fat and begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for one or two minutes or until the garlic softens. Stir in the tomato paste, coating the pancetta mixture well and season everything with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In the same pan, over medium high heat, brown the meat well on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
In a medium size bowl combine the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar.  Stir in the onion mixture.

Pour the mixture over the meat. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bake for 2 1/3 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
With a slotted spoon remove the shank to a cutting board and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat into small pieces and add back to the pot with the sauce. Discard the bone.
Stir the basil into the sauce. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.
2 cups of the sauce is enough to coat a pound of ziti, rigatoni or fusilli.
The sauce can also be frozen for future use.
*Look for the Mutti brand when purchasing tomato paste in a can or tube. This superior tomato paste is one of the few made in Italy in Parma while many others are imported from elsewhere in the world and do not meet the same high standards.

This recipe is featured on show 2204 – Delicious Sauces – Le Salse Deliziose.

This recipe is from Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann Esposito.


  1. Laura Sanchez's avatar

    Laura Sanchez

    This was really good! I didn't have the FV olive oil or Mutti tomato paste but it still came out delicious. The beef shank came out very tender. I added some mushrooms in the end, just because I like them in pasta. I might add a little cayenne pepper next time for a little spice. My husband loved it and we will definitely make this often....
  2. Jane's avatar


    Have you ever done the shin ragu in a crock pot?
  3. Lisa Hall's avatar

    Lisa Hall

    Fantastico!! My daughter dislikes red sauce and she LOVED this. So much flavor and so easy to make. The addition of the vinegar and sugar sweetens and mellows the taste. This is one to save!!
  4. Liz Galvano Harshbarger's avatar

    Liz Galvano Harshbarger

    I've recently discovered you and your program. I grew up in an Italian kitchen. The traditions and recipies are very dear to me. Watching you is like a touch of home. Your not flashy, you're authentic. Brava, Maria Anna!
  5. reta ritondaro's avatar

    reta ritondaro

    I absolutely love your show, I tape each episode and watch each one several times. It gives me that down home good feeling!
  6. Patricia's avatar


    The absolute best! Served this meal for my uncle's 87th birthday. Fantastic! No leftovers, it was a BIG hit. First words I heard were "it smells wonderful" . Thanks for making me shine! Will be serving it again and again. I have already shared the recipe several times.
  7. Lisa's avatar


    I loved this recipe. It smelled wonderful and adding the basil at end really preserved the flavor. I now have several servings of sauce to freeze for later use. Thank you.
  8. Marie's avatar


    MaryAnn; It is a joy to watch you on your TV show. I learn something every time. Thank you so very much.
  9. Cynthia's avatar


    Your show is a labor of love! It brings me comfort, and wonderful memories of growing up in a home with a mother who loved to nourish, as you do. Thank you again and again!
  10. Dan's avatar


    Was wondering what to make for the Super Bowl, and then I remembered this recipe. Thanks!!
  11. Anion's avatar


    This looks awesome, I can't wait to try it!

    And I can't wait to watch your other videos here. You are the first cook I've seen who made a point of mentioning the use of tongs to keep hands clean/washing hands after touching raw meat/avoiding contamination--at least the first I've believed when they mentioned it. (I'm weird about food cleanliness, and it drives me crazy when I see TV chefs handle raw chicken and then touch all sorts of other items and foods in the kitchen, either without washing their hands or after giving their hands a cursory splash of water. Ack!)
  12. Matt's avatar


    Mary Ann you are a sweetheart and love your show especially this ragu!
  13. Mary's avatar


    The oven time says “2 1/-3” hours. Should this say 2 1/2 to 3 hours?

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