Ragù…a stew by any other name

So I really enjoyed the Pappardelle with Slow-roasted Lamb Ragú that I had at a local Italian Trattoria last night (even though it cost me close to $30 a serve!) and I wondered whether most diners realise that when they are ordering a very exotic sounding Ragú, rather than some mystery dish that requires the skill of a 5 star chef to prepare, what they are really ordering is simply pasta tossed through a stew!

Yes, folks, a ragú is simply a sauce of slowly simmered meat, often tomato based, that is usually made with lesser cuts of meat that need slow cooking to render them tender. So, basically, it’s a stew. In fact, this dish probably evolved as a good use of the leftover casserole from the night before!

This is exactly how I get two different meals out of one when I am cooking during the week. Make Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks or Chicken Cacciatore or Pulled Pork Shoulder one night and chop up the leftovers, add a little extra sugo, wine or water as needed, and toss it through some exotic pasta for dinner on Day 2 (or Day 3 so it’s not too familiar).

Often I will freshen it up by tossing in some spinach leaves, green peas, sliced zucchini or just a generous sprinkling of parsley. Some freshly grated Parmesan and there’s your restaurant meal, at home.

In the meantime, here is my relatively quick recipe for a rich pork sausage ragú using bottled sugo that will give you that hearty fix mid-week.

Italian Pork Sausage Ragú with Casareccia Pasta
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 500g Italian-style pork sausages
  2. ½ cup olive oil
  3. 1 cup red wine
  4. 750ml bottle tomato passata
  5. 500g casareccia pasta
  6. ½ bunch basil leaves
  7. freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
  1. Slice or chop pork sausages. Heat oil is a large heavy based pot and sauté sausages until well browned. Deglaze pan with wine, add tomato passata and bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes until thickened. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, drain and toss into ragu with basil leaves. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
  1. Casareccia pasta is a twisted tube shape pasta originating in Sicily. Penne, spirali or rigatoni may be substituted.
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