Ragu Napoletano is an Italian meat sauce made by slowly simmering whole chunks of meat in tomato sauce. This is a great sauce to make with cheaper cuts like beef chuck, pork short ribs, and veal shank - perfect for Singapore where freshly imported meat is priced at a premium. These cuts are also the most flavourful parts of the animal so cooking slowly until the meat starts to fall apart gives an intensely delicious sauce.
I love the heartiness of this dish - it’s not as well known as Ragu alla Bologonese but just as comforting. Italian families traditionally start preparing the Ragu Napoletano in the morning and leave the pot of sauce simmering away all day. Typically served for Sunday night dinner, some pasta is tossed with the sauce for primo (first course), and the meat is sliced into smaller chunks for secondo (main course).
Makes enough for four
250g beef (e.g. chuck, topside or shin)
250g pork (e.g. short ribs, shoulder or butt)
250g Italian pork sausages
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1 cup dry red wine
2 cans crushed plum tomatoes and juices
Bunch of fresh basil, torn
Quarter cup fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch of chilli flakes to taste
Salt & pepper
4 servings of pasta
Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
What to do
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high, and sear meat until brown on all sides. Add onions and sauté until translucent.
Add carrot, celery, garlic oregano, and continue to cook for a few minutes. Stir in red wine and cook until most of the wine has evaporated.
Stir in tomatoes, chilli flakes, half of the herbs, and season with salt & pepper. Add sausages and lower heat to a simmer.
Cover with lid and cook for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender enough to tear apart with a fork. Take lid off and continue to simmer to reduce the sauce.
Meanwhile, boil water in large pot with a teaspoon of salt, and cook pasta in salted water for about 8mins until al dente ?. Reserve some of the pasta water and drain pasta.
Remove meat from pot, slice into pieces, and serve separately.
Add pasta and rest of herbs to the ragu. Toss to coat, adding some reserved pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Grate some parmigiano-reggiano on top before serving.
For my Ragu Napoletano, I used chunks of pork shoulder, beef chuck, and omitted the sausages since I was only cooking for two. I tossed some pappardelle with the ragu, grated pecorino cheese on top, and served the meat on the side - a great Sunday night comfort dish!