Deb’s Umbrian Ragu Sauce

Fall has finally arrived, and with it, the temperatures have begun to cool down, which has me starting to think about creating some hearty vegetable and grain soups, meaty stews, and robust meat ragu sauces such as this one. There is nothing better than walking into the kitchen and having the aroma of a slow-cooked meaty pasta sauce wafting through the air.

Although there may seem to be a large number of ingredients in this sauce recipe, you basically add most of them to the pot fairly quickly, and then just let the sauce simmer and do its magic while you do other things. This sauce is full proof, you really cannot mess up, just use quality ingredients and let the flavors build.

I prefer Muti or Pomi chopped tomatoes and passata as both brands are delicious enough to eat right from the can or box. Never buy any brand of tomato product that tastes sour or appears watery. You really do want rich, full-flavored tomatoes for this sauce.

In Umbria where we are privileged enough to spend half of each year, pork is king. You will find a variety of pork options on any restaurant menu in this region, and Umbrian’s have perfected curing pork, creating the most amazing products such as salami, capocollo, and prosciutto to name just a few.

Each and every grocery store has a wide selection of Umbrian pork products, and I love to incorporate them into my cooking. In my attempt to celebrate pork, particularly Umbrian pork, many years ago I created this meaty rage sauce that I make often. The recipe has been tweaked a bit throughout the years, but is pretty much the same ragu sauce that I started making when we first moved to Umbria over ten years ago.

Although this is not a traditional Umbrian recipe, but since I am using a variety of pork and I am in Umbria, I call it an Umbrian ragu. You will find that most Italian cooks have their own versions of a meat based ragu sauce that will differ from home to home, some passed down from generation to generation.

This sauce is delicious layered between tender sheets of pasta noodles for lasagna or tossed with just about any type of pasta, dry or fresh. I served mine on bucatini shown in the photos below.

Since it is just my husband and me at home here in Umbria, when I make a big pot of this sauce, I freeze portions of it in individual containers that I can take out and enjoy for a quick meal tossed with pasta. When I serve this sauce on pasta, I prefer grated Pecorino Romano cheese rather than Parmesan cheese as it has a more robust flavor that pairs well with this full-flavored sauce.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Deb's Umbrian Ragu Sauce

Deb's Umbrian Ragu Sauce

Yield: Serves 10-12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

A meaty ragu sauce for pasta using four different types of pork.


  • 1 Carrot, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Diced
  • 1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced
  • 1 Pound Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Pound Sausage Meat
  • 3 Ounces Finely Chopped Prosciutto
  • 3 Ounces Finely Diced Pancetta
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 2 (14 Ounce) Cans Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 (500 Gram - 580 Ml) Jar Passata (Pureed Tomatoes)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Dried Oregano
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash Red Pepper Flakes


    1. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat, and cook the celery, carrot, and onion until tender, about 6 minutes.
    2. Add the ground pork, sausage meat, pancetta, and chopped prosciutto and cook until the meat is no longer pink and has begun to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic and cook an additional couple of minutes until fragrant.
    4. Next add the wine and cook until it has almost completely evaporated.
    5. Stir in the tomatoes, passata, oregano, parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if using, and bring to a boil.
    6. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for an hour and a half until the sauce has thickened, adding a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.
    7. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
    8. Serve on pasta of choice!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 291Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 18g

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  1. Looks delicious Deb! And I agree…the Pecorino is a great choice because like you, it just adds so much more flavour than Parm. It certainly is ragu season…I’m making a lamb neck ragu tomorrow and pici to serve with it.

  2. With those wonderful ingredients this has to be beyond delicious! Thank you so much for this and for all your fine recipes. I love your writings and terrific photos and am always happy when your site appears. Your cooking style is so much like my Grandmother (from Naples) and my mother (NY) so It’s so comforting to read everything. But I don’t just read, I cook too! You are one in my trio of great teachers.

  3. I would very much like to make this sauce, however, what is the difference between ground pork and sausage meat? I live in the USA?

    Thank you.

  4. Looks amazing- can’t wait to try! Loving the new black and white dishes and accessories do you mind if I ask where you purchased? Although I’m assuming in Italy ***** btw your recipes are my favorite 

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