This is the perfect summertime ragù. It follows the same slow and gentle cooking principles that all ragùs require, but the result is light and zesty, yet satisfying, in the only way a ragù can be.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (34 votes)

This ‘white’ ragù (which means no tomato) is enhanced by the addition of cloves and anchovy fillets – but fear not anchovy-phobes, this doesn’t give it a fishy flavour. They are simply there for their umami punch. Like all ragus, this can be made ahead and reheated on the day. In fact, a day-old ragu will have more depth of flavour. The panko breadcrumbs add another dimension to this dish, but they are optional if you simply can’t be bothered.


  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 500 g chicken mince
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) chicken stock
  • 30 g (½ cup) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest
  • 75 g (1½ cups) baby spinach leaves
  • 20 g salted butter
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • 500 g fresh reginette (mafaldine) pasta

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Heat a large deep flameproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil, the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for 15 minutes or until soft, but not brown. Add the anchovy fillets and stir until melted.
  2. Add the chicken mince and give everything a good stir. Cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been drawn out of the chicken and evaporated. Add the cloves, bay leaves and thyme and season with pepper.
  3. Pour in the wine and cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine is starting to evaporate. Add the chicken stock, then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar. Leave to cook for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the breadcrumbs and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the heat and stir through the lemon zest.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  7. Add the baby spinach and butter to the ragù and stir through, then remove from the heat.
  8. Drain the pasta, reserving 125 ml (½ cup) of the cooking water just in case. Throw the pasta into the ragù, give everything a good stir and add some of the cooking water if needed to loosen the sauce.
  9. Divide the pasta among serving bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the lemon breadcrumbs scattered generously over the top.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.