Working Man's Ragu

Working Man's Ragu

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Klara Wahlster


This is a version of what's know as finto, or "fake" Neapolitan ragu -- fake, because it's designed to let you eat within an hour of the start of cooking. Real ragu -- be it Neapolitan, Bolognese, whatever -- usually takes between four and seven hours to cook. This, refreshingly, does not. It also has fairly easy access ingredients.


★★★★★ 1 vote

4, as a main course
15 Min
35 Min


  • 16 oz
    pasta of choice (rigatoni, zitoni, anything tubed)
  • 1 medium
  • 2 clove
    garlic, crushed
  • 3 oz
    hard salami, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 oz
    prosciutto, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp
    olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1 pinch
    cinnamon, ground
  • 1 c
    heavy cream
  • 2/3 c
    red wine
  • 6 Tbsp
    tomato paste
  • 4 sprig(s)
    italian parsley, fresh

How to Make Working Man's Ragu


  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil, salt, add uncooked pasta. Just shy of al-dente (as they will get a minute of cooking later), remove from heat, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, drain, and set aside.
  2. Finely chop or mince onion, set aside.
  3. As finely as possible, chop up hard salami.

    NOTE: You may need to peel a thin layer of skin from the salami first. If it's there, it's gotta go.
  4. Preferably with a garlic press (or if you want to sub in 2 tsp of chopped garlic from a jar), crush 2 cloves of garlic.
  5. In a cast-iron skillet, or frying pan with reasonably high edges, add olive oil and garlic on medium low. Continuously stir garlic to prevent burning for a couple of minutes.
  6. Cascade the onion, the salami, and the cubed prosciutto into the pan -- the goal here is to have translucent onions, and fried meat just to the edge of crispy, which should take no more than 5-10 minutes.

    NOTE: If it's easier, you can start with the meat in the pan until slightly crispy, reserve on paper towels, soften the onions and garlic and then re-add the meat.
  7. Add the tomato paste (and it MUST be tomato paste, you cannot substitute anything else) to the pan, and be generous with the tablespoons.
  8. Pour on the wine to deglaze pan. You may not need all 2/3 cup, you may need more. It should be enough to cover the surface area of the pan.
  9. Scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and mash in the tomato paste, until you have a layer of thick tomato, meat, and aromatics covering the surface of the pan. Turn up the heat to a medium, or medium high. Occasionally mix the paste together and redistribute -- you want to avoid burning the paste, but you need it to caramelize. The tomato paste will visibly darken from a vibrant primary red to a dark burgundy, change slightly in consistency, and reduce -- which can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the heat of the pan. This is when you can progress with the recipe.
  10. Pour reserved starchy pasta water on to paste, and mix in until you have a thick sauce. Remove from heat.
  11. Once sauce is no longer simmering, add in heavy cream and mix well until sauce is uniform in color. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon.
  12. Add in pasta and mix with the sauce for a minute before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Printable Recipe Card

About Working Man's Ragu

Course/Dish: Pasta Other Sauces
Regional Style: Italian

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