Ragù Sauce

About this recipe

Tomato sauce made with ground beef is called “ragù.” It goes great with homemade pasta (tagliatelle) and spaghetti in general. If you eat enough, people might start calling you “the big ragù.”


Place a large saucepot on the stove; turn heat to just under medium and fry:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil,
  • ½ cooking onion (diced),
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (minced, or added whole and removed before browning).

When the onion looks good, add:

  • 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef (or veal),
  • ½ lb. ground pork,
  • some beef, veal, or pork bones with marrow (preferably pork with a little meat on them),
  • 1½ tbsp. basil, 2–2½ tsp. salt, 1½-2 tsp. chili pepper, and ½ tsp. marjoram (optional).

Brown your beef until released water is cooked off. Then add:

  • 1 cup white wine.

Reduce heat, cover, and let wine absorb into meat for 10 minutes. Remove lid, turn heat back up, and cook another 5-10 minutes until the wine has almost evaporated. Then add:

  • 3 (28 oz.) cans plum tomatoes (either hand-squashed or blended) and ½ can water,
  • 1 stalk celery,
  • 1 peeled carrot.

Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1-1½ hours. Taste for seasoning after 30 minutes.

After simmering, uncover, turn heat back up to medium, and add:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, or ½ lb. fresh mushrooms, or 1 (10 oz.) can mushrooms.


  • You don’t want too much oil since there is fat in the meat.
  • If you hate peas, that’s okay—you don’t have to put them in.
  • If you’re a big meat lover, you can use a little more (but not too much).
  • Use extra-lean ground beef when mixing with pork. If making with just beef, lean is okay.
  • To add fresh mushrooms: wash, place in bowl with water, microwave for 5 minutes, and rinse. When adding canned mushrooms, make sure to rinse. Fresh peas don’t have to be nuked or rinsed. (Maybe go for the peas—it’s easier.)
    For sauce bolognese, add 2 tbsp. butter with the oil and some diced carrot and celery with the onion. Use more meat (another 1 lb.), add nutmeg (1-1½ tsp.) with your spices, and at the end put in ½ cup cream. This is really, really good with tagliatelle. (P.S. No peas or mushrooms.)

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