Pasta al Ragù Potentino

Pasta with Potenza Ragù


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Potenza, the regional capital of Basilicata, is famous for having the most extreme temperatures in Italy. When the weather is icy, a one-pot dish like this one is ideal. The sauce is cooked with a large piece of flattened pork or beef in it to impart a rich flavour. In Potenza, the pasta and the sauce would be served as a substantial, nourishing first course and the meat then served as a flavoursome second course, or it can even be cooled and reserved for a separate meal.


  • 50 g/2 oz pecorino cheese, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5 ml/¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 1.5 ml/¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large slice pork or beef, about 600 g/1 lb 6 oz (see Cook’s Tips)
  • 75 g/3 oz finely sliced pancetta
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp lard, white cooking fat or dripping
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml/5 tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 x 400 g/14 oz cans chopped tomatoes, drained and seeded
  • 500 g/1 lb 6 oz fresh pasta
  • sea salt


  1. Cut half the pecorino cheese into small cubes. Grate the remaining cheese. Mix together the grated and cubed cheese in a bowl.

  2. Add the garlic and parsley, then stir in the chilli powder and nutmeg.
  3. Lay the meat on a board and cover it with clear film or plastic wrap, tucking the film under the board to secure it. Using a meat mallet, flatten the meat as much as possible, taking care not to tear it.

  4. Unwrap the meat and trim off any fat or gristle. The piece of meat should be fairly even, relatively thin and capable of being rolled.
  5. Cover the flattened meat completely with pancetta slices, top with the cheese mixture, sprinkle with salt and carefully roll it up. Secure the roll with kitchen string or twine.
  6. Heat the lard or dripping with the olive oil in a deep frying pan or casserole. Add the meat roll and sear it on all sides, then pour in the wine. Cook for 3 minutes, turning the meat frequently, to boil off the alcohol.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the pan, sprinkle with a little salt and cover the pan or casserole tightly. Simmer very slowly for about 3 hours, adding a little water occasionally as necessary.
  8. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and return to the boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the pasta has risen to the surface of the water and is just tender. Drain well.
  9. Remove the meat roll from the sauce and either keep it hot to serve as a second course, or allow it cool for serving as part of a separate meal.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce, toss well together, then transfer to a heated platter and serve, sprinkled with extra grated pecorino, if you like.