Ragù Napoletano, classic Neapolitan ragù
Does anything sound more cozy than walking into a house on a chilly fall afternoon to the smell of long-simmering meat in tomato sauce?
Didn’t think so.
Sundays in Naples are reserved for eating a large, late lunch with family. The most popular preparation is the famous Ragù Napoletano (o’ rrau, in dialect). Nonne all over the city lovingly babysit a gently bubbling pot of love over the course of hours.
Ragù Napoletano starts with a base of tomato purée wherein large, tough cuts of meat are simmered.
In addition to the cheaper, tougher cuts of beef and pork, one would typically add pork sausage, braciole, and sometimes even meatballs. The meats are browned in a pan with minced onion, then red wine is added to deglaze.
At this point, the tomato purée is added slowly and the whole lot is left to simmer very slowly for at least 4 hours, but frequently more.
The sugo (sauce or gravy) is used to dress dried pasta (usually a short pasta, although long is used as well) and served with grated cheese as a primo piatto.
The variety of meats, which are now achingly tender, are consumed as the steaming secondo piatto, or main course.
An abundant array of contorni (side dishes) would always be served in any Neapolitan house. They would most likely include broccoli raab and fried eggplant, along with whatever looked great at the fruttivendolo (fruit and vegetable monger) that morning.
And the entire extended family gathers around the table for the warm embrace of ragù.