You’ve got to try this one. The slow cooker is the best tool in the culinary arsenal. It’s the perfect way to make a hearty, well-rounded meal for less than $10, and it’s easy to make something that tastes like its filled with hours of effort. This ragu is no exception.

The basis for this recipe is a slow-cooked sauce made from classic Italian ingredients, and it’s inexpensive and easy to make. Best of all, it’s a versatile sauce that can be used as a stand-in for any number of meat sauces, such as spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and marinara. The ingredients can also be used as a base for other dishes, such as pasta and meatballs, as well as to make other sauces, such as butter and cream sauces and bolognese.

I’ve never been a big fan of store-bought Ragu, and I’ve tried making it myself, but it never quite came out the way I wanted it to. But I felt like making a sauce and something with a little bit of garlic and Italian spices, and making a sauce that is Italian but really delicious and not just a big pile of grease and fat that is too much for me to be eating.. Read more about homemade ragu with fresh tomatoes and let us know what you think.

This recipe produces plenty for Jeff and me to freeze and utilize later since we just have two of us at home. We get through it fairly fast (within 3 weeks).

After allowing the sauce to cool, I spoon enough for one dinner into a freezer ziplock bag and date it to keep track.

It’s probably better if I don’t tell Angela I’m freezing the sauce… But, just between us, I’m letting you know that I’m feeling very clever and on top of things as I waltz over to our freezer and pull a bag of this sauce out whenever we want a taste of Tuscany!

I’m slapping myself on the back right now, and I’m sure you will as well!

Ragu prepared from scratch

Homemade Ragu

This ragu is a slow-cooked, genuine dish from the Ercolano family, and it is served at Fattoria Pulcino, their Montepulciano restaurant (Tuscany).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 3 carrots, medium (finely chopped)
  • 2 onions, medium (finely chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (finely cut, including leaves!)
  • 3 pound ground veal or other lean meat (ground sirloin is excellent!)
  • 2 large tomato cans (I prefer an Italian brand like San Marzano)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (fresh) (finely chopped)
  • 2 c. red wine, dry
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • season with salt and pepper to taste

Note

Do yourself a favor and take your time while making homemade ragu. Allowing the liquids to soak and evaporate while simmering is definitely worth your time! Although this sauce is excellent the day it is prepared, Angela from Fattoria Pulcino shared some interesting information with us: they make their sauce the day before they intend to serve it in the restaurant because it is much better the following day!

Another suggestion is to sample often and adjust the salt. To begin, add approximately a tablespoon of kosher salt to the pan. That may seem like a lot, but after you add the other ingredients, you may need to add more salt.

Directions

Step 1
Cook carrots, onions, and celery in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes in a large saute pan over medium heat.

Season with salt and pepper and add the ground beef. I’d start with a tablespoon or so of kosher salt.

Simmer for 1 hour over very low heat, stirring often to avoid sticking.

Step 2

Toss in the tomatoes and parsley.

Take a look at how tasty the sauce looks and smells!

Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while gradually adding the red wine.

Cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.

A simple homemade ragu recipe directly from Fattoria Pulcino Ristorante in Montepulciano (Tuscany). SO good and authentic!
Step 3
Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the veggie broth (approx. 45 minutes).

Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes.

Tuscany and Homemade Ragu

 

We enjoyed a wonderful vacation and culinary class in Montepulciano a few months ago, thanks to Pamela Haack of Strada Toscana, Angela of Fattoria Pulcino, and Airbnb.

Any location in Tuscany is one of our favorite Italian road vacations since it is just a four-hour journey from our house.

Jeff and I brought our daughter Alyssa and her husband Zach, as well as our dog Heidi and, judging by how we looked by the end of the journey, ALL of Heidi’s hair, on this vacation.

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We slept in a really nice and comfy apartment that we discovered on Airbnb.

Heidi could stroll to the town center from her flat, which also had a big yard for her to explore.

With all of the traveling we’ve done over the years, I’ve discovered that I prefer staying in an apartment than staying in a hotel.

I like having access to a kitchen and a living room, and I don’t miss the regular cleaning service at all.

(Wow! Isn’t it amazing how much I’ve changed through the years?)

The personalized cooking lesson that Strada Toscana helped us organize was the highlight of our vacation.

The lesson was led by Fattoria Pulcino’s Angela, who is a true artist.

We took a lesson with Angela in 2009, and it was fantastic.

Needless to say, we were ecstatic to be reunited with Angela!

Fattoria Pulcino is managed by the Ercolano Family, which includes Sergio and Gabriella, their six children, 18 grandkids, and a slew of other relatives, and is housed in a former monastery. When you go inside Fattoria Pulcino, you can feel the passion for what they do.

We arrived at the restaurant early and were welcomed by Gabriella, who promptly brought us cappuccinos.

Angela outfitted us with aprons and chef’s hats (obviously to make us feel more confident in our abilities!).

Homemade Ragu-3

The information in the seminar was invaluable.

We prepared a hot chili sauce and ragu.

We also cooked pici pasta (a kind of handmade pasta popular in that region), tortellini, tagliatelle, and numerous “crostata,” which are fruit-filled sweets similar to cookies and pies.

pasta making collage

Delicious!

We stood there watching Angela’s sister Stella cook “Pollo al Mattone” on the massive wood-fired grill.

Take a full butterflied chicken, place it over extremely hot coals, and cover it with two bricks while it cooks.

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It’s simply so easy and delicious!

Homemade Ragu-7

While the chicken was cooking, Stella served us bruschetta and a glass of crisp white wine.

We sat down for lunch after our lesson and ate everything we had cooked that day and more, including a beautiful Bistecca alla Fiorentina prepared by one of Stella’s sons.

Visit Strada Toscana to discover what excursions they have scheduled if you’re planning a vacation to Italy. Pamela and her husband, Lou, reside in Umbria, Italy, and provide small group tours and courses in a boutique manner.

 

My husband and I love pizza. We love it so much that we have a rule that we have to have a pizza a week. A new pizza place opened up not too far from us and I love going there. The crust is crispy and oooey, and the sauce is just the right consistency.. Read more about ragu sauce ingredients and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Ragu and a Bolognese?

A Ragu is a sauce made from meat, vegetables and tomato sauce. It originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce with minced beef, pork, veal or chicken as well as herbs and spices.

Why is Ragu being discontinued in Canada?

Ragu is being discontinued in Canada because the company that produces it has changed ownership.

How do you make homemade Ragu taste?

To make homemade Ragu taste, you can add a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to the pasta.