Let 'em stew.

Traditional italian ragú and Homemade Spaghetti

Long gone are the days where you could create dishes which take 3 hours to prepare. Today's cooks are always keen on how fast they can cook and eat their meals, and be done with it all. Which does give them time to play around with other things, however, the joy of cooking is long gone and lost.

The Italians, however, seem to still hold on to old traditions yet while embracing the future
. In one town you can walk down a cobbled street licking a homemade traditional icecream from an ancient recipe, while a fiery red ferrari speeds past you.

For lunch, they think nothing of a having a 1 to 2 hour lunch break, drinking wine with their families and chatting happily about things that happened that day.
I can’t but wonder how they managed to get it right?
Having left my slow cooker in London (I already had 4 boxes of excess baggage shipped to Cape Town, and smuggled a very heavy clay Tagine pot in my luggage). I had almost but given up on slow cooking entirely, when a recipe caught my eye.

Most everyone has a really good bolognaise recipe up their sleeve, whether it contains red wine, or stock or whole tomatoes , tomato puree or even that special packet of bolognaise spice mix hidden in the back of the cupboard, I can assuredly say that most people are happy to sit down to this meal any day of the week.

It comes in many forms, served with spaghetti, or as a chilli con carne, or sloppy joes.
But generally it will contain a combination of beef and other minces.

This is a traditional recipe for an italian ragu, or Ragú all Napoletana con spaghetti, rag
ú with Napoletana sauce and spaghetti, the basis of bolognaise. The cooking time is 2 to 3 hours, but if you have ever tasted lamb shanks that fall off the bone, or melt in your beef stew, 3 hours is trivial compared to the depth of flavour that arises from it's slow cooking.

Combined with hand made spaghetti this is a time muncher of a dish best served at special occasions, or if you are lucky to have a slow cooker, then your problems are solved!

Traditional italian ragú
Ragú all Napoletana con spaghetti
Serves 4

For the ragú: 
3 Tbsp italian flatleaf parsley
40 g pine nuts or almonds
40 g raisins

60 g Parmesan, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, creamed 
salt and pepper
8 x slices 
(500 g) of lean topside beef
4 Tbsp olive oil
50 g lard or margerine
80 ml dry red wine
150 g tomato paste
375 ml water
60 g Parmesan, to serve

For the pasta:
2 eggs
300 g flour
80 ml water

First prepare the involtini:
Roughly chop the parsley, nuts and raisins together. Mix in the grated Parmesan, the creamed garlic, and season.
Lay the slices of beef on a board and top with above mix.

Season the beef and roll up. Secure with string (I just wrapped them tightly).

Heat the olive oil and lard in a large pan or pot.
Add the involtini, and turn them gently making sure they brown well on all sides.

This will take 10 – 15 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes, allowing some evaporation.

Mix the tomato paste with the water and add to the pot. Cook on a very low heat for 2 to 3 hours.

Add some additional water every now and then to prevent sticking.

For the pasta:
Follow instructions as for making ravioli pasta, and roll out to 5/6 thinness. Using the spaghetti attachment, flour the sheets of pasta well, and process through the machine.

Cook in boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes.

Serve hot with the ragú and a fresh salad and more Parmesan cheese.


  1. Hey Lara! Did you use regular or Tipo 00 flour for the pasta? If you used 00 flour, where did you get it from.

    Thanks :)

  2. Hey Lauren, I used normal flour, but if you can get your hands on tipo00 do use it instead, that is the original flour used in Italy for pastas and pizzas. Getting 00 in S.A is tricky, but I might be able to secure a supplier next year and let you know. Otherwise deli type stores would be your best bet.