Wednesday 22 May 2019

Clodagh McKenna: Authentic Italian ragu slow-cooked to perfection

This week, our chef Clodagh McKenna prepares a rich sauce with oregano and sweet tomatoes

Pork and beef ragu
Pork and beef ragu
Clodagh McKenna

Clodagh McKenna

It was when I lived in Turin, in northern Italy, that I learned how to make a proper ragu, what we might call bolognese. Before that, I had always made it just with minced beef but, in fact, it should be made with 50pc minced pork and 50pc minced beef. It's the fat in the pork that makes the ragu taste so delicious.

It's also important to slow-cook it for a couple of hours over a low heat, so the meat goes tender and the flavours have a chance to develop.

I love making this on a Saturday morning and allowing it to cook all day. I double up on the recipe and freeze portions for easy suppers during the week.

I use tinned cherry tomatoes as I find them a lot sweeter than the chopped kind. I love the flavour of dried oregano in the ragu - again, something that I learned in Italy. It lends a delicious sweet earthy flavour.

Talking about Italian treats, last weekend I discovered a fantastic wine bar in Notting Hill, London, called Negozio Classica. It's intimate and authentic, and sells incredible Tuscan Avignonesi wines by the glass and also a thoughtful selection of other Italian wines.

My idea of heaven, and one of my new favourite spots.

Authentic beef and pork ragu

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour, at least

Serve with: Beaujolais Lantignié 2016 Louis Jadot


2 tbsp olive oil

25g butter

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

½ celery stick, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

500g minced pork

500g minced beef

300ml red wine

600g tin cherry tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

600g fresh pappardelle

100g Parmesan cheese (grated), sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Place a casserole dish over a medium heat and add the oil and the butter.

2. Put in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Stir and cook for five minutes or until softened. Add the minced beef and pork, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef has browned.

3. Pour in the wine and leave to simmer for about five minutes.

4. Stir in the tinned cherry tomatoes, tomato purée, dried oregano and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour. The longer you allow it to simmer, the more tender and flavoursome the ragu becomes. Add a little beef or vegetable stock if it becomes too thick, or even water.

5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Tip in the pappardelle and stir for two minutes. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving two tbsp of cooking water.

6. Return the pasta to the saucepan (off the heat) and stir in the cooking water followed by the ragu.

7. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Irish Independent

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