Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)

By • March 23, 2014 7 Comments

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Author Notes: You didn’t think all meat sauces were made with ground meat, did you? This one gets its meat flavor from a pot roast, which is then served as a separate course or even at a different meal.
From "Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way" by Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant (W. W. Norton, 2013), p. 220.
Maureen Fant

Serves 4 to 6

For the condimento:

  • 2 white onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small rib celery
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 1/2 ounces guanciale or pancetta, finely diced (1/4 inch)
  • 1 pound boneless beef in a single piece, such as chuch roast or chuck steak, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (at least)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup meat broth (if needed)

To make the dish:

  • 1 pound pasta, almost any kind except pastina or angel hair
  • 4 rounded tablespoons grated Parmigiano-reggiano
  1. Mince finely together the onions, celery, carrot, and parsley (in the food processor if desired). Put in a saucepan with the pancetta or guanciale and the oil over medium-low heat.
  2. When the vegetables are wilted and the pancetta or guanciale nicely browned, about 10 minutes, add the beef and brown on all sides, turning with tongs or two spoons (don’t puncture it with a fork and let the precious juices escape).
  3. Raise the heat and add the wine. Let it bubble until the odor of alcohol has disappeared, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and the bay leaves. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper and continue cooking, covered, over very low heat, for about 2 hours, until the sauce has visibly reduced and the oil has come to the surface. Add a little broth from time to time as the liquid evaporates.
  4. Finally, remove the meat and reserve it, with a little of the sauce, for another course or another meal. Fish out and discard the bay leaves. You will be left with a thick but liquid sauce.

More Great Recipes: Beef & Veal|Pasta|Entrees|Steak|Ribs

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Comments (7) Questions (0)


about 1 year ago Esvee

I'm wondering how much oil to use for step 1 of the recipe? I'm assuming olive oil, but can you specify?


over 1 year ago Joshua White

I tried this tonight and my sauce turned out a tad off, bitter maybe. Would processing the onions, celery, carrot and parsley do that? Also, the recipe instructions mention oil, but it is not on the list.


over 1 year ago Al

Juices wont escape, you cant puncture a joint of meat


over 1 year ago Maureen Fant

Yes, a carrot. I have attempted to fix the recipe. It should be listed after the celery.
Shall I post our recipe for sugo di coniglio (rabbit). This is essentially a recipe for pot roast, i.e., one largish piece of meat. It would undoubtedly work with rabbit, but since rabbit is usually cut up, it's a bit different.
Slow cookers are practically nonexistent in Italy, but I don't see why this wouldn't work. The whole point of traditional terra-cotta cookware is slow, even cooking.


over 1 year ago Christa Zeek

should there be carrots in this?


over 1 year ago deeprootsfarm

Can this be done with rabbit?


over 1 year ago Jen!

Could this be made in a slow cooker?