Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)

March 23, 2014

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
In This Recipe


  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.

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