Maremman beef, pork and sausage ragu

Maremman beef, pork and sausage ragu

Sugo maremmano

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

The Italian word ‘ragu’ is borrowed from the French ragoût, which refers to a stew more than a meat sauce and derives from a term that means ‘to awaken the appetite’. The main thing these two different preparations share, other than the name, is slow cooking. And it is, indeed, a not-so-secret secret that the longer you cook a ragu, the better it will be.

In southern Tuscany, the more traditional word sugo (literally, ‘sauce’) is preferred to describe ragu or any vegetable sauce that is destined for coating pasta, whether sugo al pomodoro (tomato sauce) or sugo finto (‘fake’ sauce). Sugo maremmano is the best sauce for Tortelli maremmani, large ravioli of ricotta and spinach; but it’s also a classic for eating with pasta, long or short. It’s made of a mixture of meats, such as sausage meat and minced (ground) pork and beef. Traditionally, using less expensive, homegrown pork and sausage was a way to add volume to the ragu. It is also an extra tasty combination that Maremmans love.

It’s a good idea to prepare this sauce the day before you want to serve it. The extra resting time, with flavours mingling, means it tastes even better the next day.


Quantity Ingredient
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small bunch italian parsley, stalks and stems separated and chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
1 pork sausage, casing removed and meat crumbled
250ml dry red wine
700g tomato passata


  1. Combine the onion, carrot, celery and parsley stalks in a wide frying pan with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium–high and add the beef, pork and sausage meat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the meat has roasted and browned. There are a few stages to this process. First, the meat will colour on all sides but remain pale. Then you will start to see some liquid coming out of the meat. Then the real browning starts to happen. The bottom of the pan may get sticky and browned, too – all of this adds a lot of flavour.
  3. Return the vegetables to the pan and pour over the red wine. Let the wine cook down for about 5–7 minutes, then add the tomato passata, along with about 500 ml to cover. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low heat and cook for at least 40 minutes, topping up with water as necessary. After about 30 minutes, check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. The parsley leaves can be stirred through right before serving or saved for sprinkling over the top (I prefer the previous).
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