A Sunday Sauce Made With Love—& Lots of Pancetta

A round of applause for this contest-winning rich and spicy ragù.

January 10, 2022

Our latest contest theme, Your Best Dish Made With Love, highlighted recipes with special meaning: Whether transported to a gathering of family or friends or served at home, we were looking for that special dish that exuded love and caring. From casseroles and soups to braises and stews, we ate our way through dozens of delicious recipes—and ones with heart-rending stories, to boot.

With such a wide range of recipes to choose from, it wasn't easy to narrow things down. At the end, it came down to AntoniaJames' The Cuban—succulent pulled pork on a homemade roll, perfectly balanced with spices and herbs—and ItalianEnough's Long-Distance Ragù, a pork ragù cooked so low and slow that every bite was like a hug.

Picking a winner is never an straightforward task, especially with two amazing and delicious recipes. But thanks to our wonderful community, who cast their votes to help us out, we've come up with the winning dish. Cue the drumroll...

Your Best Recipe Made With Love

Long-Distance Ragù by ItalianEnough

Congratulations, ItalianEnough, your ragù was loved by all! We are excited to learn more about your winning dish in the Q&A below. We also want to congratulate the runner up, AntoniaJames, whose Cuban sandwich was absolutely delicious.

Q&A With ItalianEnough

What's your least favorite food?

Strawberries. They make everything in the fridge smell wrong!

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?

I recently read Lisa Taddeo’s (amazing) novel, Animal. In it, the main character Joan cooks one dish on repeat that I haven't stopped thinking about: pastina. I made some ultra-silky chicken bone broth the other night, and my first meal of 2022 was that broth simmered with tiny noodles and topped with fresh herbs and cracked pepper. Do less, but better—that’s my 2022 intention.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

Attempting Swedish meatballs for the first time with a native Scandinavian, but somehow forgetting the panko and miscalculating the flour and ending up with meat sludge in burnt chunky gravy on top of a singed layer of impenetrable black crust in the bottom of my favorite pan. I sat on the floor and cried.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Food that reconnects you to someone or someplace that makes you feel safe, protected, loved. It’s always stuff my mom made growing up. It’s not really the food itself that's comforting, but access to that feeling of reassurance; everything was okay then, so everything is going to be okay now.

Apron or no apron?

No apron—I just put on all black from head to toe so the stains don’t show. In my family this is referred to as a “sauce outfit.”

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?

The scene in The Godfather where Clemenza teaches Michael the steps to make sausage and meatballs in gravy and tells him: "You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday." It reminds me of my mom on Sauce Day.

Who is someone you'd love to cook for, and why?

I learned a lot of what I know about cooking from watching my maternal grandmother in the kitchen, but she died before I was old enough to show her anything she’d taught me. I’d love to cook for her today so she could see this gift she gave me being put to use, showing others love the same way she once did.

We hope you had a chance to make ItalianEnough's delicious ragu! You can congratulate her and our runner up AntoniaJames in the comment section.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.

1 Comment

luvcookbooks January 11, 2022
Cheers! Can’t wait to make this!