Cavatelli con ragu' di maiale

Today’s Regional Italian dish comes from the small region of Molise, in the South of Italy (though, to be precise, the same dish with small variations is widespread in many other Southern regions, like Puglia or Campania or Basilicata).  Molise is a small but beautiful region, famous for its pasta and extra virgin olive oil.  It is also the region of the pretty touristic town of Termoli.  A small note about the term “ragù”.  It is a meat based tomato sauce, which is usually made with minced meat in the Northern regions or with meat pieces in the Southern regions of Italy.  The most famous ragù is the one from Emilia Romagna, which is very similar to what is known as “bolognaise” outside of Italy.  The ragù I made for today’s recipe is made with pieces of meat and it is one of my favourites.  One of these days l will share with you my granny’s recipe, which is the best EVER!  But for today, I will leave you with this yummy version.  I love serving this sauce with a traditional home-made pasta from the same area, called Cavatelli!  Don’t forget to check out my tutorial on how to make it yourself.  It is really very easy!  Enjoy!


Ingredients (for 4 persons):
1 batch of Cavatelli (click here for the recipe), made with 300 gms – 10.5 oz. of durum wheat flour

300 gms – 10.5 oz. pork schnitzels
300 gms – 10.5 oz. Italian sausage (pure pork)
300 gms – 10.5 oz. pork spare ribs, trimmed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 dried red chilli (or ½ tsp chilli flakes)
1 lt – ¼ gallon tomato purée (passata)
250 ml – 1 cup water
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 ½ tbsp parsley, chopped
Pecorino Romano thinly grated, to serve

Put the chopped clove of garlic and 1 tbsp of the chopped parsley on the pork schnitelz.  Roll them like a big involtino and secure them with some cooking string.  These are known as “braciole”.  Keep them aside.

Now, heat up the extra virgin olive oil in a pot.  Add the half onion, pork spare ribs and sausages and sauté for a few minutes on a high flame to sear the meat.  Now add the chilli, tomato passata and water and bring to a boil.  At this point, add the braciole, salt and pepper.  Cover and let it cook on a low flame for at least 1 hour.  The more the sauce cooks, the tastier it will be… but check and stir it regularly and add some more water if required.

When ready, remove the meat and keep it aside.

Cook the Cavatelli following the steps on “How to cook pasta “al dente”.  Only in this you will not have a pre set cooking time.  The time will vary based on the thickness of your pasta and on whether you have left them to dry etc.  So, the best solution is to taste it!  Remember, it does have to remain firm.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, put it in a frying pan and add the pork sauce to it.  Sauté it on a medium flame for a minute.

Serve it hot with a generous sprinkle of Pecorino Romano and the remaining chopped parsley.

Cavatelli con ragu' di maiale

NOTE: you can chop some piece of the cooked meat and serve them with the pasta.  I especially like eating it with the sausage!  You can have the remaining meat as a second or another meal all together.

Cavatelli con ragu' di maiale

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  1. says

    How many traditional dishes you italians have got?! Not that I’m complaining..But even reading the recipes they make me hungry.. 😀

  2. Eha says

    Love your recipe and shall certainly try it! I have not used cavatelli, but it has been very popular on many cookery segments of late. Decidedly hoping not to offend you in any shape, size or form, actually a couple of the fave contestants [at the pointy end of the competition, as they say!] of Masterchef, made this at the Barilla challenge in Italy but a few days ago and got high praise from the MD :) ! Don’t think they used schnitzels, but both other meats were there?! Glad to have your recipe!!!!

    • says

      hahaha no offence taken! I haven’t been following Masterchef this year… I know it’s bad bad bad for a foodie and I actually love the show, but I am usually putting my little one to bed at that time! I had no idea they had made this! That sounds great actually. My granny’s version includes sausage and ribs and no schnitzels, so it sounds more similar to the Masterchef sauce! :-) I need to see if I can watch it online? :-)

      • Eha says

        Just to correct myself: the contestants used the ragu in a lasagne dish and the cavatelli was served with a pure Italian tomato one? Masterchef has changed for the better this year methinks! As they promised they have gone back more to the basics and the Friday Masterclasses truly have been helpful to me! [Interesting way of doing risotto last night] A very talented and imaginative nine-some left: try to get to the last couple of Masterclasses at least :) !

  3. Cristy says

    Oh. My. Goodness! This looks divine and even though I hate winter, I can’t wait until it gets here so I can make this!! :) great pics, Manu!!

  4. Steven says

    Do you have an opinion as to whether or not the formed pasta may be frozen so as to be able to make ahead for a big dinner party?

    • says

      I don’t usually freeze it, but I know many Italians who do. Simply keep it on a floured tray and put it in the freezer until hard. Then you can put the pasta in a ziploc bag and cook it from frozen. As I said, I haven’t done it with pasta, but I do it regularly with gnocchi. Hope it helps.

  5. says

    This was a great treat, this presentation!! My grandmother was from Bari, Italy. My grandfather from Naples. They immigrated to Lake Forest, IL.. The fondest memory I have of her is coming to her home and seeing her making my favorite dish, Cavatelli. In true Italian tradition she would “snap out” these little homemade morsels from the dough she made. And the sauce with individual Bracioles made from Flank Steak. Oh, the memories and the tastes!!
    Thank You

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