How to Make A Real Ragu: A Traditional Recipe in Italy


Sep 24

Making Real Ragu in an authentic Italian Cooking Lesson via @insidetravellab

Few things celebrate Italy more than a traditional recipe for an authentic ragu sauce. In honour of Italy week, here's a golden oldie from my earlier blogging days: how to make a real ragu. My knowledge about food and Italy has come a long way since then. But the recipe remains as good as ever. Enjoy!

"This is the classic ragù that my grandmother taught me: a delicious, versatile sauce that can be used in many ways. Added to lasagne, any type of pasta, served with meatballs..." Lella from Cuoche in Vacanza

How to Make a Real Ragu

Tuscany, Italy

Recently, I wrote about my cooking lessons in Tuscany. In short, how I'd always thought of Italian food as something cheap and easy that you threw together in your student days, when you didn't have an oven - or much of a clue.

Then, I visited Tuscany. Or, perhaps to be more precise, Cuoche in Vacanza, an Italian cooking class, visited me. In addition to rewriting the whole section of my brain labelled "Italian food," they also shared a recipe or two. Here, as promised, is one:

How to make a real ragu - the secret is to add cloves

Recommended reading: 27 Ways Food and Travel Go Together (Not just for "Foodies")

How to Make A Real Ragu: the Recipe

Ragù - Ingredients

1 medium onion

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

500 grams of minced meat (pork or beef)

1 sausage - opened (optional)

1 can tomatoes

4 cloves

Extra virgin olive oil

1 glass white wine

How to make a real ragu - authentic Italian cooking and the ingredients you will need

Method: How to Make Real Ragù

Chop the onion, carrot and celery together, heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a pan and fry the chopped onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add the minced meat and opened sausage and allow to cook until the meat is quite dry. Add the wine and let it evaporate.

Add the tomatoes and cloves, and if the tomatoes are peeled, break them up with a wooden spoon.

Allow to simmer until the meat and sauce are unified (about one hour.) Stir occasionally.

Add salt during the last five minutes of cooking.

Buon Appetito! The ragù is now ready!

Making spinach and ricotta ravioli to go with the real ragu Making spinach and ricotta ravioli to go with the real ragu

Post-Ragù Analysis

In many ways, this recipe for ragù isn't too different to my student version. So where did I go wrong? Well, I never used cloves or celery, I probably grabbed sunflower oil or whatever oil there was to hand, and in all probability, I drank the wine. Now I'm older, wiser (ahem) and have a much more discerning palate, I'll have to try this at home myself!

The finished product: the Real Ragu

Real Ragù Tips

"When I was small, my grandmother let me try it by spreading it on a slice of Tuscan bread (bread without salt.) This will always be the most delicious way of eating ragù for me." Cuoche In Vacanza

Making authentic pasta to go with the real ragu in Tuscany Italy

Disclosure: Casa Gentili invited me to attend this cooking class in Italy. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like (and eat what I like.) Otherwise, life's just too short.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • Marilyn says:

    Comments not showing up, you say? Here’s a test comment, as requested. This post grabbed me because I just finished reading “A Vineyard in Tuscany” by Ferenc Mate and am inspired by all things Italian. Plus I’m going to Italy in the fall. Plus I am intrigued by the recipe–cloves make it special, and I will try it. Thanks!

    • Abi says:

      Thank you for helping out…Comment problem seems restricted to only a few people. Very mysterious.

      On the plus side, I’ll have to look into A Vineyard in Tuscany – sounds good. I was hoping to head back to Italy myself this autumn but I’ve just heard it’s not to be…Ah well, next time!

      I trust you’ll have a great time…

  • Gretta says:

    Thank you for sharing this authentic recipe. I have one for tomato sauce on my blog which my Sicilian mother-in-law taught me and everyone loves it

  • Mandy says:

    Hi, I will be in Italy in September and would love to do an Italian cooking class. Can I go to Cuoche In Vacanza instead? as I don’t know what sort of accomodation we will be staying in at this stage. Thanks

    • Abi King says:

      I’m not sure – why not click on the link and drop them a line. They’re very friendly so I’m sure they can help you out…

      • Mandy says:

        Thanks Abi, I will do. Cheers Mandy

  • Jaime says:

    Thanks for sharing! I ate my ragu on English muffins topped with chopped onion and avocado

  • Bob says:

    A real ragu doesn’t include “minced meat”, period. It uses real pieces of beef meat, cooked 3-5h until the meat is so tender that it will fall apart when you touch it with a fork.
    Unfortunately, your version is the “fast food” variant.

  • Gayla says:

    Oh wow! I’d have never guessed a traditional ragu would have cloves in it. I’m really curious to know how this affects the flavor, so I’ll definitely be trying it myself…well, maybe I’ll have my husband make it, he’s a much better cook than I. ;-) Thanks for the recipe!

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