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Playing Pizzaiola Ragu


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground beef
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed or whole peeled Italian tomatoes
  • 1 pound bucatini or thick spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  • Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


Serves: 4 servings


Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta.

When the water is almost boiling, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the fennel seeds to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground beef and cook, stirring only occasionally, until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pan, and cook for another minute. Add the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to pull up any browned bits. Add the beef stock and tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, break them up with a spoon or potato masher) and bring the sauce up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, salt the boiling water and drop the pasta in. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain well and reserve until the sauce is ready.

When everything is ready, toss the sauce and pasta together, and garnish with parsley and shredded cheese.