Orecchiette al Ragu di Braciole: Pasta with Beef Ragu and Braciole

This is the very first recipe that was birthed out of my recipe hunter project. Because I haven’t developed the show yet, I thought I would design an episode for Season 2 of Extra Virgin. The idea is to reconnect people to their family history through their families’ traditional dishes.

In this episode, we invited old friend and star of Criminal Minds, Joe Mantenga. We hunted down this recipe, Orecchiette al Ragu di Braciole, which was the first dish that his family in Italy made for him in the 1970’s when he visited them for the first time. Deb and I spent about 2 weeks over the phone and on Skype with his family in Italy learning and perfecting the recipe. All I can say is that when Joe tasted it, he cried.


Prep Time: 30 mins/ Cook Time: 4 hours/ Serves: 6

6 beef cutlets (beef top round sliced thin into cutlets)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 pound beef stew meat, cubed (chuck works well)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 cup red wine
1 ½ (24 ounce) jars passata di pomodoro (tomato puree)
5 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1 pound orecchiette

Pound the meat to ¼ inch thin. Add garlic, parsley, and cheese to a small bowl and toss. Divide evenly over each cutlet. Roll up each cutlet and tie with butcher’s to secure and to make a roll. Season each with salt and pepper.


Heat up olive over in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the beef rolls and the cubed beef and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate once browned. Add a touch more olive oil to the pan and add the onion and carrots and sauté until tender. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so and scrap up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the passata and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, add the beef back into the pot, and cover with a lid.


Cook on low for 2 ½- 3 hours, until thick and the meat begins to fall apart, flipping the rolls occasionally. (If too dry, add a half cup of water, if too loose remove the lid to finish thickening).


Boil a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander in the sink.


Remove bay leaves and discard from the sauce. Carefully remove the braciole to a cutting board and cut off the butcher’s twine. Slice beef rolls into rounds. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss all together.


Serve in a large platter and top with the braciole and sprinkle with lots of pecorino cheese.

COOK’S NOTE: Use canned crushed tomatoes if you cannot find passata di pomodoro.