The two most famous ragùs of Italy are from Bologna and Naples. The main differences are that the Bolognese use ground meat in the sauce and serve it over pasta, while the Napoletanos cook the whole meat in the sauce but remove it and use it as a second course.
Ragù or “Sunday Gravy”? If you go to Italy and ask for gravy, they won’t know what you’re talking about. The word “gravy” is not related to any sauce; it is an Italian-American term that came from immigrant families mostly from Naples.
Because it’s summer, I made a lighter version of this sauce by eliminating the sausage and a few other ingredients that would make this recipe heavier. This is traditionally the Sunday dish served in Naples, when the whole family gathers around to spend the day together and enjoy good food and wine!
As in the Italian tradition, the braciole is served as a second course, never on the same plate with the pasta.
Here’s the ragu Napoletano recipe:
Although this recipe takes some time to prepare, the result is a filling two-course meal. Ragù Napoletano involves cooking meat in a gravy-like sauce, then serving the sauce over pasta as a first course. The meat, or braciole, is then served as the second course. Thrown in a leafy salad and you have a full three-course dinner!
- 6 slices top sirloin sliced and pounded to 1/4 inch thick
- 6 slices pancetta very thinly sliced
- 4 ounces pecorino Romano freshly grated
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 small carrot diced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 28-oz cans Italian San Marzano tomatoes pureed
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Paccheri pasta
Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic and mix with the parsley.
Spread the beef slices on a clean working surface and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on each slice.
Spread the garlic and parsley mixture evenly on each slice and top with a slice of pancetta.
Carefully roll each slice from the bottom to the top and secure with toothpicks.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the braciole and sear until each side is lightly brown.
Add the wine and cook for a few minutes.
Remove the braciole to a plate. Add the onions, the carrot, and the rest of the garlic to the pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Return the braciole to the pan, cover, turn to a very low heat, and slow-cook for about 2 hours, stirring frequently.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain well, and transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon some sauce carefully over the pasta to coat.
Serve immediately, adding a sprinkle of pecorino and some chopped parsley.
Serve the braciole on a separate platter as a second course.