Working Man's Ragu

Working Man's Ragu Recipe

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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


  • 1In 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.
  • 2Finely chop or mince onion, set aside.
  • 3As 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.
  • 4Preferably with a garlic press (or if you want to sub in 2 tsp of chopped garlic from a jar), crush 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 5In 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.
  • 6Cascade 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.
  • 7Add the tomato paste (and it MUST be tomato paste, you cannot substitute anything else) to the pan, and be generous with the tablespoons.
  • 8Pour 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.
  • 9Scrape 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.
  • 10Pour reserved starchy pasta water on to paste, and mix in until you have a thick sauce. Remove from heat.
  • 11Once sauce is no longer simmering, add in heavy cream and mix well until sauce is uniform in color. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon.
  • 12Add 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