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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Ragù alla Napoletana | Authentic Neapolitan Ragù Sauce Recipe

Updated: Jan 14

Ragù is a weekly, Sunday tradition in southern Italy. Walking through the streets of Naples on a Sunday morning, you'll be greeted to the incredible smell of this long-simmering sauce. This ragù can be used as a simple pasta sauce, but it's also the base of other dishes such as lasagna alla Napoletana.

Ragù alla Napoletana Recipe | Authentic Southern Italian "Sunday Sauce"

There are many different kinds of meat that can be used to cook ragù. Some Italians add meatballs, pork skin, or braciola into the sauce. Below we've given instructions using a simple but effective mix of beef and pork, a must for achieving a good ragù. The meat is always served separately, as a second course, making this a 2-in-1 hit!

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For this recipe, you will need:

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) lard (the traditional and best choice) or extra-virgin olive oil

  • 6 pork spare ribs

  • About 10 ounces (285 g) pork belly, cut into 2 to 3 large chunks

  • About 1 pound (450 g) beef chuck roast, round or top sirloin, cut into 3 to 4 large chunks

  • 1/2 onion, diced

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • 1.5 cups (355 ml) red wine

  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) tomato paste

  • 56 ounces (1.6 kg) tomato passata or milled whole peeled tomatoes

Typically, a ragù is started by first cooking the "soffritto" (onion, in this case) before adding the meat. If, like us, you live in a country where meat generally holds more water, we recommend starting with the meat so that it has some time to sweat and brown before adding the soffritto.

In a large, heavy pot (we recommend terracotta or a Dutch oven if available), melt the lard over medium/high heat. Add all of the meat in; don't be afraid to crowd the pot. Turning and mixing the pieces often, cook the meat until browned on all sides.

You can add the onion directly into the meat, but for best results remove the meat from the pot with tongs and set aside so that the onion can cook evenly.

Add the onion and fry in the lard for a minute or two, then place the meat back into the pot, along with a handful of fresh basil. Season with salt/pepper to taste. Next, add the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the alcohol has burned off and the wine has reduced a little bit.

Stir in the tomato paste and add the tomato passata. Add a few generous pinches of salt. Partially cover the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is very tender and almost falling off the bone.

Using tongs, remove the meat from the sauce and set aside for later. Bring the sauce to a simmer again, partially covered, and cook for a further 1 to 2 hours, until you reach a consistency thick enough to your liking. You can always add warm water and continue to cook for longer, developing the flavors even further! As the ragù nears completion, taste it and add salt as necessary.

The ragù is done! It can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for longer storage.

If you plan on serving your ragù with pasta, followed by the meat as a second course:

Add the meat back into the finished sauce over low heat so that it can reheat and stay moist. Cook and drain your pasta, as directed. Place it back in its pot and ladle in enough ragù sauce to fully coat the pasta. Stir over medium/high heat for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with extra ragù and grated Parmigiano or pecorino cheese.

Keep the meat warm in the sauce until everyone has finished the first course, then serve it. Buon appetito!


17 hours ago

Put it on the stove early this morning. Special request from the other half, while I’m traveling. I’ll make the Lasagna alla Napoletana tomorrow. The passata (bottom picture) is from the San Marzano tomatoes we grow in our yard. The basil and onions too.


Vivian Tenuta
Vivian Tenuta
Feb 11

It’s a really good Sugo Sunday! We opted for pork neckbones, Italian sausage and chuck roast for our meats. The recipe is rich, meaty, and delicious. I just need to keep my husband away with the bread so I can save some sauce for next week’s lasagna. He gets to make the meatballs for it.. Thanks, yall, and cheers!


Basia Greene
Basia Greene
Feb 05

This is absolutely perfetto!


Jan 22

After the meat is cooked and the onions are cooked, can we put the ragu in a crockpot to cook the 5 hours or does it have to be on the stove?

Jan 26
Replying to

A crockpot will do just fine as long as it can maintain a light easy simmer. No stove necessary in this case.👍


Jan 22

No Garlic??

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