A Ragu for the Ages

(from castro15’s recipe box)

Categories: Pasta


  • Passata di Pomodoro:
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Ragu:
  • 2 1/4 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 5 oz. pancetta, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 5 oz. prosciutto di parma, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 5 oz. mortadella, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 5 oz. strutto (lard), cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry, fruity red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Pasta:
  • Salt
  • 16 oz. pappardelle or tagliatelle
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving


  1. For the passata, pass the tomatoes with the juices through a food mill into a large bowl or pulse in a food processor until very smooth, about 1 minute.

  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-low until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and marjoram and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly, about 30 minutes. Discard the garlic and marjoram. Set aside 2 cups of the passata for the ragu. Let the remaining passata cool.

  3. For the ragu, using a meat grinder, grind the beef into a large bowl. Without cleaning the grinder between batches, grind the pork into the same bowl. Grind the pancetta, prosciutto, and mortadella into a separate medium bowl. Run the pancetta mixture through the grinder again. Run the onion, celery and carrot through the grinder into another large bowl.

  4. In a large heavy pot, melt the strutto over medium-high heat. Add the ground pancetta mixture. Cook, stirring often, until the fat renders, about 4 minutes. Add the vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

  5. Add the ground beef and pork; season with kosher salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the beef and pork release their juices, 6-8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the mixture begins to steam. Stir in the reserved 2 cups of passata and the stock. Reduce heat to low.

  6. Gently simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the beef and pork are tender and the flavors are concentrated, 5-7 hours.

  7. Set aside 6 cups of ragu for the pasta. Let the remaining sauce cool.

  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.

  9. In another large pot, bring the reserved 6 cups of ragu to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and swirl until the sauce is smooth.

  10. . Using a large slotted fork, transfer the pasta from the cooking water to the ragu. Toss the pasta until coated. Add some of the cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Mix 1 cup cheese into the sauce. Serve the pasta with more cheese.

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