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Stanley Tucci’s Ragù Tucci

by Stanley Tucci from Taste: My Life Through Food

Actor Stanley Tucci shares his family recipe for a sumptuous beef ragù. Use up any leftovers in his iconic timpano recipe.


This is the traditional way the Tuccis make ragù. My maternal grandmother made a lighter version of this same sauce. It calls for spareribs and stewing beef in this recipe, but different cuts of meat may be added depending on what is on hand – pork chops, sausage, pig’s feet. It is delicious with polpette (meatballs), which may be added to the sauce during the last half hour of cooking. The sauce may be prepared two days ahead of serving. Refrigerate it overnight and reheat before tossing with the pasta. It may also be frozen with the meat and meatballs.

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50ml olive oil
500g stewing beef, trimmed of fat, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into medium size pieces
500g country-style spareribs, trimmed of fat, cut in half, rinsed, and patted dry
115g onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
125ml dry red wine
175g tomato purée
375ml warm water, plus more as needed
5 x 400g cans of whole plum tomatoes, passed through a food mill or puréed in the blender
3 fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried


Warm the olive oil in a stew pot set over a medium-high heat. Sear the stewing beef until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Add the spareribs to the pot and sear until they are brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside in the bowl with the stewing beef. (If your pot is big enough to hold all the meat in a single layer, it may be cooked at the same time.)

Stir the onions and garlic into the pot. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions begin to soften and lose their shape, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot clean. Add the tomato purée. Pour 125ml of the warm water into the tin to loosen any residual paste and then pour the water into the pot. Cook to warm the paste through, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, along with the remaining 250ml of warm water. Stir in the basil and oregano. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer to sweeten the tomatoes, about 30 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer, stirring frequently, until the meat is very tender and the tomatoes are cooked, about 2 hours. Warm water may be added to the sauce, in 125ml portions, if the sauce becomes too thick. (If you have made meatballs, they may be added during the last half hour of cooking. The meatballs will soften and absorb some of the sauce.)


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