Best of Italian Cooking – Making Ragu
In Italy you just say you are making ragu, and the butcher know the cuts to give you, but anywhere else you should probably ask for “stew cuts.” This should definitely include some bone-in pieces. Include a few pieces of oxtail as well for amazing results.
In Italian cuisine, a ragù is a meat-based sauce which is commonly served with pasta. The common characteristic among the recipes is the presence of meat and all are to be used as sauces for pasta.
In southern Italian regions, ragùs are often prepared from substantial quantities of large, whole cuts of meat. After a long braise (or simmer), the meats are then removed and may be served as a separate course without pasta.
It’s a true crowd-pleasing dish — rich, hearty and very simple to make!
- 1.5 lbs. / 600 Grams each of veal, pork and Lamb
- 3 Tablespoons of Villa Cappelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Onions
- ¼ Cup of white or red wine (can use a splash of vinegar as well if you prefer)
- 2 x 680ml (23oz.) Jars of pureed tomatoes
- Half a jar of sun-dried tomato spread
- 3 Tablespoons fresh basil
- Salt & Pepper
- First, drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the bottom of a pan. While the oil gets nice and hot, lightly salt and pepper the top of your meat. When the oil is hot add the meat seasoning side down. While the bottom cooks, season the other side of your meat in the pan. Brown the meat on both sides. You aren't "sealing" in any flavors or juices, you are caramelizing the meat to add some nice flavor. Cook your meat in batches, taking it out when both sides are done. Add your onions to the pan. Let the onions cook until at least translucent if not a little longer. Add the wine or vinegar to deglaze your pan. Next add your tomato and Villa Cappelli Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. Let the sauce cook a bit, then taste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and more sauce or spread if you like. Place the meat in the slow cooker. Grandma Cappelli doesn't use one, but I find it invaluable. You can cook this on the stove, just adding your meat back into the sauce, but you will need to check it religiously every 20-30 minutes and cook it very very slow for a good 3-4 hours. The slower cooker just makes the process a little more fool-proof and easier. After adding your meat, pour the tomato sauce over the meat, and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Add in your fresh chopped basil at the end. When you are ready to serve, spoon out your meat using a spider or slotted spoon. Reserve the meat on a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the remaining sauce to some al dente pasta, 200g per person, preferable penne or rigatoni, and toss. You can reserve a little sauce for everyone to spoon on top. Serve with some grated cheese, and you are good to go. The meat is always served as a second course which is one of the best the things about this dish. You have a starter and a delicious fall-off-the-bone-meat second course all in one pot!
This recipe was provided Connie Capelli, Villa Capelli. She used to sit at the stove for hours making this, but Villa Capelli since modernised it just a bit (don’t tell her!), and use a slow cooker so we can just set it and forget it.