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Hearty Ragu Sauce

This recipe is layered with flavors and textures, and is perfect for a cozy, fall evening. I added cinnamon to give a hint of warmth, but this is optional considering it isn’t a traditional ingredient.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 35 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: ragu, ragu sauce
Servings: 8


  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 7 oz can tomato paste
  • 28 oz canned 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
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 c vegetable or chicken stock
  • 17 oz rigatoni giganti pasta or other
  • 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!