This has to be my favourite dish, as it’s so reminiscent of my childhood. Historically meat ragù was slow-cooked in terracotta pots for up to 12 hours, which may seem absurd, but believe me the taste was amazing. Ragù is the traditional Sunday lunch for most southern Italian families: the tomato sauce dresses the pasta and the meat is served as a main course. Ragù is so popular that it is even featured in a 1990 Sophia Loren film, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. In one scene Sophia goes to the butcher and ends up in quite a fiery discussion with other housewives as to what makes the perfect ragù! I dedicate this recipe to my mother, Zia Maria, and my sisters who themselves have never stopped arguing about this incredible dish.
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 100 ml red wine
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 500 g topside of beef, chopped into medium-sized chunks
- 500 g pork ribs
- 200 g Italian pork sausages
- 3 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 handful of basil leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
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.
Dilute the tomato paste in the red wine.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until softened.
Add the beef, ribs and sausages and seal well all over (you may need to do this in batches).
Raise the heat, stir in the diluted tomato paste and reduce by a third.
Add the tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper and stir well.
Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook very gently for about 2 hours, until the sauce is thick and silky.
Stir from time to time, checking that there is enough moisture; if necessary add a little more wine or water.
Remove from the heat and serve with pasta as suggested above, or on its own with lots of good bread to mop up the rich tomato sauce.