Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali
Ragu all Nonna
4 hr 20 min
20 min
4 hr
8 servings
4 hr 20 min
20 min
4 hr
8 servings


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 recipe Polpette Alla Napoletana, recipe follows
  • 12 pork spare ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin-on and bones intact
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes and juice, passed through a food mill
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (about 6 links), still in its casing
  • Pinch hot red pepper flakes
Polpette Alla Napoletana:
  • 3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground chuck beef
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, baked for 8 minutes in a 400 degree F oven
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a large pasta pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil until smoking. Season the meatballs, short ribs and chicken with salt and pepper to taste, and sear 5 or 6 pieces at a time over medium heat until dark golden brown. Remove the seared meat to a plate and repeat with the remaining meat chunks.

Add the onion to the pan and saute, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits. Cook until the onions are golden brown and very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, browned meat chunks, tomatoes, sausages, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming off the fat as necessary.

Remove from the heat and remove meat and sausages from the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and set the sauce aside to use with pasta as a second course. For the first course, divide the meats, which should still be lightly coated in sauce, evenly among 6 plates. Serve with escarole and pine nuts.

Polpette Alla Napoletana:


In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in water to cover for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the bread cubes and squeeze with your fingers to press out the excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, beef, eggs, garlic, Pecorino Romano, parsley, toasted pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix with your hands to incorporate. With wet hands, form 12 to 16 meatballs, each smaller than a tennis ball and larger than a golf ball.

Proceed with the recipe for Ragu.

Yield: 12 to 16 meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ease of preparation: easy

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