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Roman pork sausage ragu. Karen Martini ITALIAN MEATBALL recipes for Epicure and Good Living. Photographed by Marina Oliphant. Styling by Caroline Velik. Bowl from Home and Abroad, MUST CREDIT. Photographed September 4, 2012. The Age Newspaper and The SMH.

Photo: Marina Oliphant

For this rich ragu, half the work is done before you start, thanks to the pork and fennel sausages, preferably bought from a good Italian butcher. Already cured and seasoned, they inject instant flavour into the braise.


  • 750g pork and fennel sausages
  • 150g thick-cut pancetta, diced
  • 2 brown onions, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400ml red wine
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 400g tinned crushed tomatoes
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 100g pasta each person, such as pappardelle
  • Salt and pepper
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil


Serve this with any pasta — gnocchi or pappardelle are my favourites. This recipe can also be the base of a spectacular lasagne, as I discovered one desperate Sunday: add two extra tins of tomatoes and layer the ragu with pasta sheets and bechamel sauce.

Remove skins from sausages and crumble meat. Discard skins. Heat a heavy-based pot over medium heat, then add sausage meat and pancetta. Fry until golden brown, stirring every few minutes. Don’t worry if you get some sticky, crunchy bits — it’s all flavour.

Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, dried chilli and fennel seeds. Stir well. The vegetables will sweat a little and ease the crusty, caramelised pieces from the bottom of the pot.

Cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised. Add tomato paste and red wine and bring to a simmer. Add stock, tomatoes, rosemary and oregano, and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat, until the sauce has a thick, intense consistency. Cook pasta according to packet instructions.

When cooked, season ragu carefully (the sausages will already be salted), then add olive oil and cooked pasta. Bring pot to the table to serve.

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