Starting the year off right – Gluten-Free Recipe for Italian Ragu

Ragu Reale Gluten-Free Pasta Sauce8152

There is an Italian proverb that states “Quello che si fa il primo dell’anno si fa tutto l’anno.” Translated: “That which you do at the beginning of the year you will do the rest of year.” This year I kicked off 2011 on January 1st by making a full Italian dinner including my friend’s recipe for “Ragu Reale.”

During a trip to Puglia (the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’) in 2002 I stayed with my friend Loredana’s family and entertained them all with the fact that there is a whole line of tomato sauces in the United States branded “Ragu.” Loredana’s sister Margherita felt she needed to remedy any American misconceptions about what a real ragu was and set out to teach me her favorite recipe for a Sunday night family meal – a tomato meat sauce she called “Ragu Reale” – The Real Ragu!

Armed with this fabulous new recipe, I returned home and treated my friends to this new found treasure. My friends raved and this warm and tasty “Ragu Reale” became a reliable favorite that winter. This most recent winter, with Jack Frost an all too regular visitor, my mind hearkened back to that “real ragu” that would be just what I needed to combat Mr. Frost. So I scrambled through boxes of old handwritten letters until I excitedly found that precious envelope from Margherita containing the prized recipe.

I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my memories but it turned out to be just as rich and wonderful as when I first had it in Italy. Enjoy! Happy New Year!

Recipe for Authentic Italian Veal and Pork Ragu (recipe adapted from Italian version by my friend Margherita)

Serves 6-8, freeze for up to 3 months

2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
5 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork (you can substitute one pound of either pork or veal if you don’t have access to both)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt*
8 cups strained tomatoes (I used Pomi brand)

Add olive oil to a large saucepan or stock pot and bring pan to medium heat. Add carrots, celery and onions and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the pork and veal and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 10-15 minutes over low to medium heat, until the liquid reduces slightly. Add the salt and tomatoes and continue to simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.

You want the sauce to reduce down so that it’s thick and can almost “stand” on the pasta.

How To Make Ragu Reale Gluten-Free Pasta Sauce

Serve on a short, textured, gluten-free pasta like fusilli or farfalle and top with a grated hard cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano.

I highly recommend serving it with this gluten-free garlic cheese bread.

To take your decadence to the next level, indulge in dessert – try this warm Indonesian-style banana topping on top of ice cream and a gluten-free brownie.

Indonesian Banana Ice Cream Sundae GlutenFree8156

*It’s tempting to add extra salt if you taste along the way, but wait until you are actually serving the sauce before adding any if you absolutely must. The coarse salt takes longer to break down and as the sauce reduces the concentration of salt becomes stronger. Also the final dish will include the salt from the pasta (if you salt the pasta water) and should be topped with a salty hard cheese like pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano. I am usually VERY generous with my salt but you could make this sauce irreparably salty which would just be tragic after all of the work you’ve done.

Original recipe in Italian from the the region of Puglia (the heel of the boot):

“Ragu Reale” di Margherita Santillo Castaldo

500 gr di carne macinata (vitello o maiale)
2 litri di salsa di pomodoro
1 bicchiere di vino bianco
5 cucchiai di olio di oliva
Mezzo cucchiaio di sale grosso
2 carote
1 cipolla
1 gambo di sedano

Tritare la carota, cipolla e sedano, mettere queste cose nella pentola con l’olio, far soffriggere, un po’ e mettere la carne farla soffriggere e mettere il vino bianco, far aciugare il vino, mettere il sale e la salsa di pomodoro, far cucinare per 2 ore, ma controlla sempre che non si bruci!

Buon Appetito :)

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roodie said,

January 12, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

I tried this recipe and it was tasty. The key is to pick a pasta with lots of grooves like fusilli..

mark said,

January 14, 2011 @ 3:26 am

Delicious. Tried it with spaghetti because we didn’t have anything else. Worked just fine.

Francine Apollo said,

January 18, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

Thanks for the tip in the Feb/Mar issue of Living Without. We were in NYC for the weekend and at at Bistango’s on Saturday evening. I had not had ravioli in about 4 years; there were 7 choices for GF desserts! Heavenly food and treatment!
We ate lunch at Pita Grill 291 7th Ave. on Saturday. The lentil soup and meatless grape leaves were great. My husband, who can eat gluten, enjoyed his grilled vegetables & goat cheese panini.
We stopped at Eataly on Friday evening…disappointing in its choices. I had a nice (but fairly salty) salad.
Keep up the good work and thanks, again!!!

Paul said,

January 21, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

This looks incredible … and dessert to boot! Thank you for this excellent article.

Angie Halten said,

January 27, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

Pasta is my absolute favorite so the more recipes I have, all the better! This Italian Ragu is on my list to make this week. I’ve made something similar with beef, so I’m looking forward to try it with pork.


Kellee said,

June 3, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

I am so excited to see your post on London. I was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease almost two years ago and have spent the last year in London. I am so afraid to go back to the US because as you said London–well all of Britain really– is a Gluten Free Heaven! So fun to see my favorite dish from Borough Market and my FAVORITE bread, Genius, on here as well. Am I just bias or does the GF food over here just taste SO much better? It has been a while for me, but I feel like they have the recipes for EVERYTHING just right over here. Thanks for your site I am so glad I found it!

CarolKicinski said,

August 20, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

Wow! Gorgeous.This is great recipe,I love pasta thanks for sharing this recipe………

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