Sometimes traditions that you had as a couple haven’t quite carried over to your children yet. That’s the case with this easy ragu recipe. The P and I love it; it’s our very favorite meal. Maybe in the world. Maybe ever. Our little one could live on this alone, but the older one, not so much. Yet. Insert wicked laugh here.
I don’t recall how I first came up with this easy ragu recipe. I’m pretty sure it’s something I threw together after learning about authentic Italian ragu sauces. I know that, for me, this recipe is the definition of comfort food. It’s the perfect meal with a wonderful winter salad (I love a tri-color salad) and it just isn’t complete for me without a great glass of red wine.
Rigatoni and Ragu – Family Traditions
- 2 T olive oil
- 7 oz prosciutto diced
- 1 c finely diced onion
- 1 c finely diced celery
- 1 c finely diced carrot
- 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 c red wine
- 2 lbs. ground beef I prefer grass fed and organic for health benefits
- 16 oz can whole tomatoes
- Several pieces of parmesan rind
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1/3 c half and half
- 1 lb rigatoni noodles
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Saute prosciutto in olive oil for about 3 minutes until it barely begins to brown.
- Add onions, celery, carrot, and garlic.
- Continue to saute for about 10 minutes until vegetables are just beginning to soften.
- Add red wine. Let the mixture come to a boil.
- Add ground beef and saute until beef is browned.
- Open tomatoes and cut off "stem" top of the tomatoes. "Crush" tomatoes through your hands or roughly cut them as you add them to the pot.
- Add 1/2 remaining tomato juice from the can to the pot.
- Stir everything to mix well.
- Add in parmesan rind pieces.
- Add in rosemary sprig.
- Cover rind and sprig with sauce.
- Cover pot and simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.
- Bring 1gal generously salted water to a vigorous boil.
- Add rigatoni and cook according to package directions - leaving the rigatoni slightly less than al dente.
- Add half and half to sauce at the last minute and stir in.
- Add rigatoni to pot with sauce and let these fall in love with each other for about 5-10 minutes. The rigatoni will soak up some of the liquid in the sauce. YUM!
- Serve and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
If you’ve been with The Midlife Mamas for a while, you may be saying – pasta???? What’s she doing with a noodle? They steer clear of wheat, don’t they? Well, yes we do because my son and I are both sensitive to wheat. But, since we are only sensitive and not allergic, we can occasionally indulge in a noodle or bread. But, as I’m trying to teach my son, if you’re going to eat something that’s not great for your body, make sure it’s really good and really worth it. This easy ragu recipe with rigatoni is definitely really good and really worth it!
A couple of notes about changing things up. I also love this sauce in a less traditional, gluten free, presentation. If you’re avoiding wheat, try it with brown rice. It won’t provide exactly the same experience, but it’s still really delicious. I confess, I’ve been known to pretend that it’s chili and just eat it straight up. It’s completely gluten free that way 🙂
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I used prosciutto in the instructions, but pancetta or even bacon could easily be used in its place. If you use American bacon, it will be smokier and saltier, so make sure you are really careful before adding salt as the parmesan is salty also. You could use a combination of pork and beef for the ground meat. And, be prepared, this is not a tomato based sauce, it will not be tomatoey. (Is that a word?)
Finally, a traditional Italian presentation would include tagliatelle. Italian chefs would never serve a ragu with a small noodle like spaghetti – they feel that this hearty sauce needs a grand noodle to “stick” to. I prefer the rigatoni and think the combination is divine and the rigatoni gives it plenty of place to “stick”. (You know, before it gets IN MY BELLY!) By the same token, if you have access to fresh tagliatelle, DO IT! It will be the most amazing thing that’s crossed your lips. Promise.