Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)

March 23, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Photo by Gentl & Hyers, in "Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way"
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Joshua White
    Joshua White
  • Maureen Fant
    Maureen Fant
  • Christa Zeek
    Christa Zeek
  • Jen!
Coauthor of "Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way," "Dictionary of Italian Cuisine," and "Women’s Life in Greece and Rome." Author of "Eat like the Romans: the Visitor's Food Guide," Trattorias of Rome, Florence, and Venice," and Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World "Rome." Translator of "Encyclopedia of Pasta" and "Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds: Recipes and Lore from Rome and Lazio." I came to Rome because of my studies of classics and archaeology and stayed for other reasons.

7 Reviews

Esvee August 19, 2014
I'm wondering how much oil to use for step 1 of the recipe? I'm assuming olive oil, but can you specify?
Joshua W. April 6, 2014
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.
Al April 4, 2014
Juices wont escape, you cant puncture a joint of meat
Maureen F. April 4, 2014
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.
Christa Z. April 3, 2014
should there be carrots in this?
deeprootsfarm April 3, 2014
Can this be done with rabbit?
Jen! April 3, 2014
Could this be made in a slow cooker?