How to Make Hearty Ragu Sauce
This recipe shows you How to Make Hearty Ragu Sauce, an authentic Italian Ragu with ground lamb and pork, with rigatoni giganti pasta.
Slow cooking demonstrates so much love and so many deep flavors in a recipe. This hearty ragu sauce is a perfect example. Ragu is the quintessential comfort food, and I love it any time of year.
How to Make Hearty Ragu Sauce
A ragu recipe can take anywhere from two to six hours, depending on how deeply flavored you want your meat sauce — and how traditional the recipe is. We used a mix of lamb and pork for our recipe, with baby bell peppers.
Why we love this recipe
- It’s the best comfort dish, made with your favorite pasta.
- You can also make it in the slow cooker.
- It’s hearty and filling, and always a family or crowd pleaser.
Does Ragu have meat in it?
Ragu is not Bolognese. Ragu is a meat-based (veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish or poultry) sauce, with a small amount of tomato sauce added to it.
It doesn’t get more delicious than this pasta dish with lamb and pork ragu!
Ingredients for Hearty Ragu Sauce
- Ground lamb
- Ground pork
- Olive oil
- Chili flakes
- Salt and pepper
- Tomato paste
- Canned whole, peeled tomatoes
- Celery, carrots, baby bell peppers
- Shallot + garlic
- Bay leaves
- Cinnamon sticks: optional
- Red wine
- Lemon zest
- Vegetable or chicken stock
- Rigatoni giganti pasta: or use your favorite pasta
- Pecorino cheese
- Fresh basil
How to make rigatoni giganti pasta
Rigatoni giganti pasta takes 9-10 minutes for el dente texture.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (no oil!) to a boil, add pasta, and allow water to return to a boil.
- When the water returns to a boil, start the timer for 9-10 minutes.
- A few minutes before the time is up, remove 1/3 cup of pasta water and add it to the sauce—this helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
- When time is up, immediately strain the noodles, and gently rinse under cold water.
What defines a ragu?
Last week, my daughter was cooking for hours in the kitchen, experimenting with a homemade ragu sauce made with lamb and pork. If you know anything about ragu, it’s a comfort dish made with a lot of love (many hours simmering with delicious flavors).
Ragu is a hearty, seasoned Italian sauce of meat and tomatoes. Serve this dish with a side of Green Beans with Bacon and Onions. Delish!
Tips and substitutions:
- The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Ragu is even better after it has been refrigerated, so don’t hesitate to make it ahead.
- Swap out the lamb and pork for ground beef.
- And yes! You can easily make this ragu in the oven or in a slow-cooker!
- Add in extra Parmesan cheese.
How do you serve ragu?
Serve it over your favorite kind of pasta, or baked or fried polenta. You can also serve it over mashed potatoes. It’s even good on its own with a slice of hot garlic bread. And it’s delicious served as “leftovers.”
More slow cooking recipes to try:
Get the Recipe:
How to make Hearty Ragu Sauce
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 lb ground pork
- ¼ c olive oil
- 1 Tbsp chili flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 7 ounce tomato paste
- 28 ounce whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 3-4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4’’ pieces
- 1 bunch carrots, (4-5 medium), cut into 1/4’’ pieces
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 8-10 baby bell peppers, cut into 1 inch thick strips, seeded
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, optional
- ½ c red wine
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 c vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 pound rigatoni giganti pasta, or other pasta
- Pecorino cheese, grated
- Fresh basil, finely chopped
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high. When oil is hot, add the pork and lamb—use your fingers to break it up into smaller pieces. Allow meat to sit and brown in oil before stirring.
- Add the pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir periodically, until meat is fully cooked, then remove from pan with a slotted spoon, in order to keep the fats in the pan to cook the aromatics and vegetables.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the shallots, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook until translucent and slightly tender—10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, then add the bell peppers and continue to soften the vegetables, 7 more minutes.
- Next, increase heat to medium, and add the meat back to the pan (make sure to include any rendered fat that was released). Add the wine, and use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir for 3-4 minutes, or until the wine has slightly evaporated.
- Add the hand-crushed, peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon zest, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and begin to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer sauce for 45 min to 1 hour, or until thick and reduced. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks when sauce is thick.
- While the sauce simmers, prepare your water with kosher salt to boil your pasta. Prepare your pasta 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve.
- Rigatoni giganti pasta takes 9-10 minutes for el dente texture. To prepare pasta, bring a large pot of salted water (no oil!) to a boil, add pasta and allow water to return to a boil. When the water returns to a boil, start the timer for 9-10 minutes. A few minutes before the time is up, remove 1/3 cup of pasta water and add it to the sauce—this helps the sauce stick to the pasta. When time is up, immediately strain the noodles and gently rinse under cold water.
- Either plate pasta in bowl and top with sauce, or stir the noodles into the ragù.
- Serve pasta with basil and freshly shaven pecorino cheese. Enjoy!
This is a fantastic recipe. I made it tonight for me and my partner. We subsisted gluten free pasta for the rigatoni, as I’m celiac, but other than that we kept the recipe the same. The cinnamon sticks were a great addition – added a lot of dimension to the flavor. Also, as someone who was taught how to cook by their mom, I really appreciated you sharing your daughters recipe. One of my favorite things to do is cook with my family, and it’s nice to see others share that.
Technical notes: we paired this with a 2012 Lodi dry red blend that we also Used as the wine in the ragu.
Hearty ragu sauce is my favourite. Like it to see this recipe here.
This looks so tasty! I can’t wait to try it.