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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta or salt pork, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, seasoned with 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup white wine (optional)
  • 4 pounds yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 pounds red onions, sliced
  • water or broth as needed to adjust liquid level during simmering
  • marjoram, cayenne, salt, papper to taste
  1. Dice the pancetta; cut the beef into 2-inch pieces. Slice the onions into small slices as you work on the rest of the recipe. (Chef John says you shouldn't use a food processor because it it's hard on the onions and releases a bad flavor, but I respectfully disagree.)
  2. Brown the pancetta on medium to render out most of the fat.
  3. Set aside the pancetta, turn the heat up to high, add the beef to the pork fat. (Add some olive oil if you don't have 2-3 tablespoons.)
  4. Brown the meat in 4-5 small batches — OR — cook it all at once, salting it, waiting for its juices to boil off, after which it will nicely brown. (10-15 minutes.)
  5. Once the meat is brown, reduce the heat to medium-high, add the carrots, celery, and pancetta. Add pepper and a generous pinch of salt. 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened.
  6. Add bay leaf, small squirt of tomato paste, and the white wine to deglaze the pan.
  7. Add the onions. Turn the heat down to medium, cover tightly and leave alone for 30 minutes.
  8. Uncover, give it stir, and re-cover. Wait another 30 minutes.
  9. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 hours. Stir occasionally and skim excess fat from the top. Watch the liquid level, adding water or broth to keep things loose.
  10. Taste for seasoning and serve with pasta.

To serve, simmer finished sauce with al dente pasta for a few minutes until pasta is cooked through. Finish with fresh marjoram, cayenne, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.


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