Nonna's Special Sauce

This is one of those rich stew like sauces that are often called "Ragu". This was a popular item on the menu at our family's restaurant, but with the "no carb craze", the popularity of the dish declined, and it eventually came off the menu. This sauce is a labor of love, taking time and patience. Hands on time is minimal, but in order for the meat and sauce to attain it's signature silkiness, it must spend a night in the refrigerator. It is best served with a large pasta, rigatoni being my favorite, that way you can "stab" the meat, mushrooms and pasta in one delicious bite. On a side note, this sauce freezes beautifully, so you can make a huge batch. I tend to make it when our local grocery store has pot roast on sale. It's a great way to use a less expensive cut of meat.

Nonna's Special Sauce

2-2 1/2 lb. of Chuck Roast, English Roast, Pot Roast
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. shredded carrot (you can use packaged shredded carrot)
3/4 c. red wine
2 28oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 14oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 lb. button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size

In a heavy dutch oven or brazier heat the olive oil until smoking hot. Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear on each side for about 4-5 minutes per side, until deep brown. Remove the meat and add the onions and garlic. Once they begin to color add the carrots and let cook for 3 minutes. Add the red wine and stir to loosen the browned bits from the pan. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil and a teaspoon of salt. Return the meat to the pan and nestle it into the sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover loosely with the pan lid and allow to simmer for about two hours. Add the mushrooms and stir. Return to a simmer with the lid off and cook until the meat reaches 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer and the mushrooms are tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool. Place in the refrigerator overnight. This step is very important. The meat will become silky yet retain it's shape and texture. When you are getting ready to serve, remove the meat from the pan and begin to reheat the sauce over lower heat, Cut the meat into 1 1/2 inch chunks and add to the sauce. Heat through. Serve over rigatoni and top with freshly grated parmgiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese. Enjoy. And invite family or friends for this meal. They'll appreciate it!


  1. I stumbled on this site and read this recipe. It was immediately obvious that Andrea knows what she is talking about....great recipe!!
    This is the first blog that I have joined and look forward to reading more recipes.


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