A Guide to Making the Perfect Homemade Ragu from Scratch

During the week, you might be short on time when it comes to preparing dinner. Despite your lack of time, you might be interested in making something delicious to eat, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours doing so. The following ragu recipe is homemade, and it doesn’t require hours of simmering. It’s flavor-packed and makes for the perfect sauce to eat with pasta. Here’s what you’ll need.

A plate of Homemade Ragu
The Ingredients for Homemade Ragu

  • 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground meat (your choice of turkey, pork, beef, or chicken)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 2 Calabrian chilies in oil that are finely chopped or a tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • ¼ cup of double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 12 ounces of Gemelli or another kind of short pasta
  • 1 ounce of parmesan cheese, finely grated, and some for topping
  • Basil leaves for topping

How to Prepare the Ragu

A skillet with ground meat, tomato sauce, and other ingredients
You can customize the recipe to your own liking based on your flavor preferences. When it comes to preparation, here’s how to make the ragu:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add your choice of ground meat and season with salt. Let the evenly spaced meat cook, undisturbed, until it is deep brown in color, about 3 minutes. Turn over the meat to cook the other side for another 3 minutes and transfer to a plate.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet. Cook the onions until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chilies and the tomato paste. Cook for about 3 minutes until the paste has darkened in color. Add the meat back into the skillet and break it up into small pieces. Add the cream and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring the ragu to a simmer and reduce the heat. Leave to simmer until the liquid has reduced by one-third, about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. As the ragu simmers, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  4. Add the pasta to the ragu as well as ½ cup of pasta water. Add in 1 ounce of parmesan cheese. Cook and stir the ragu as you add more pasta water as needed.
  5. Serve the pasta and ragu by topping with basil and more parmesan cheese.