Growing up, I had the privilege of having Sunday dinner each and every week. Sharing a table with three generations of family, those dinners helped to create lasting family memories and my lasting love of food.
Most Sundays, my grandparents prepared sauce and meatballs, or macaroni and gravy (as my pap liked to call it).
My grandfather seared thin pork chops in olive oil, and along with broiled meatballs, let them cook in red sauce all day long. I loved that sauce, and it's what I make most Sundays for my family, but it wasn't until I became an adult that I would try a ragú.
Sunday sauce might be a sauce with meat in it, like meatballs or whole pieces of pork, but a ragú has meat throughout. The two most popular ragùs I can think of are Bolognese and Neapolitan.
Bolognese ragù is made with ground meat and Neapolitan ragù is made from large pieces of beef that, once cooked for hours, is shredded and added back into the sauce. Both ragùs use wine. Bolognese uses red wine. Neapolitan uses white. They both have a tomato base, but only Bolognese ragù uses cream. I love them both, but if I had to choose, Neapolitan ragù is my favorite. Maybe I'm partial because my grandmother's family is from Naples, but there is something about browning huge chunks of meat and letting it cook low and slow in a bath of chicken stock, beef stock, and wine that makes this ragù irresistible.
- 3-4 lbs beef bottom round
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 medium onions diced
- 1 TBSP minced garlic
- 12 ounces tomato paste
- 1 packet onion mushroom soup mix
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups beef stock
- Preheat oven to 300° F. Cut meat into 2-inch thick slices. In a baking dish or bowl, mix flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge pieces of meat into the seasoned flour.
- On the stovetop, heat ¼ cup of canola oil in a 4 quart, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot. Heat oil to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, sear meat on all sides. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Work in batches if you need to.Remove meat from pot and set aside.
- Once all meat is browned and removed, add chopped onions and sautė until translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add garlic and give a quick stir. Add tomato paste and onion-mushroom soup packet. Stir. Deglaze with ½ cup white wine. Add chicken and beef stock and browned meat.
- Cover the pot and transfer it to the the oven. Braise for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is tender. Remove meat from pot and shred with a fork. Add shredded meat back into the sauce.Serve over cooked rigatoni or pasta of your choice.