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Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)

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Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)

Photo by Photo by Gentl & Hyers, in “Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way”
  • Test Kitchen-Approved
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


  • 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.

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.

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