Authentic Ragu` Italian Sauce

Old Bari w Homemade Oricchette Pasta

RAGU` is a common dish served in southern Italy for Sunday lunch after morning church services.  Very easy to prepare!

Prep. time 5 minutes!  Cooking time 3-4 hours on low heat.Can be made the day before.

 Serves 4-6 people.

  • 1-2 pounds Roast (1 kilo)
  • 1 medium onion peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Two 28 oz cans tomato sauce (1 ½ L)
  • 1 cup of water.
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Add salt to taste. 2 tsp. salt
  • 10 leaves fresh  Basil (add ONLY in the last 10 minutes of cooking sauce.) Reserve 6 leaves for presentation of dish.
  • Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)   

With a sharp knife cut and quarter the roast to accommodate number of people being served and place in a large pan. Add coarsely chopped onion and olive oil. Cover pan and allow to cook for 15 minutes on MEDIUM heat, turning the meat twice with the onions, as to not to burn. 

Add ½ -3/4 cup of red wine, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 5 minutes on LOW heat. 

Add tomato sauce,1 cup of water and milk. Prop lid of pan with wooden spoon and allow to simmer on LOW or Warm heat for 3-4 hours turning sauce occasionally (every 20 minutes) as to not to burn the Ragu. 

After 3-4 hours of cooking Ragu, Add 10 chopped basil leaves to sauce and remove the Ragu from the heat.  In a separate pan boil water and add your favorite pasta. The Orecchiette (little ears) pasta or Tortellini is commonly used with the Ragu ` Sauce.  This delicious married combination  originated from the city of Bari the beautiful southern region of Puglia, on the breathtaking Adriatic Sea. 

Drain pasta of all water and return pasta to pan.  Add 2-3 ladles full of sauce to pasta and turn in pan .  Spoon out pasta onto dish,  pass with 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, add one ladle of sauce on top of cheese.  Add 1 tsp of cheese to top of sauce and place a fresh basil leave for a beautiful presentation. 

Serve with meat on side.  Click on Waldorf Salad to complete this dinner!

By Kimberly Crocker

Old City of Bari and Homemade Pasta

La Focaccia Italiana

Most requested Italian Recipe!  Dalla cucina italiana…Buon Appettito!!!    

Delicious Focaccia from Puglia!


A thick airy crust that can be served warm or cold. Very simple to make and can be prepared by hand, or with a kitchen mixer by using the bread hook and setting the mixer on stir in 5 minutes. The dough rises only for 1 hour and is ready for toppings and to placed in the oven where it takes only 15 minutes to bake!

Ingredients needed: Flour, Sugar, Water, Milk, Boiled Potato, Salt, Olive Oil, Butter, Yeast.  Those in the states will likely use Dry/ Dry Active Yeast, while in Europe Fresh Yeast (beer yeast)  is more readily available. I using Fresh Yeast skip to part two.  

FYI:  Careful to not combine hot milk or salt directly to the yeast as they will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. 

Part One  In a bowl combine together with a fork the following ingredients and allow the starter dough to sponge for 20 minutes.  

  • 1 package  dry yeast ( for 1 cube beer yeast se recipe below as yeast is mixed directly in to flour with no preparation)
  • 1/3 cup warm water  ( room temperature to 110 F or 43 C)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp sugar

The yeast mixture should have bubbled and increased in size.

Peel and boil 1 small potato, allow to cool.  Mash with a fork. The potato

Dough will rise to double it’s original slice and be supple to the touch

provides extra levitation to the dough and gives a nice crunch to the crust.  Potato to be added in Part Two.

Part Two

  • Yeast Starter or 1 cube fresh beer yeast crumbled,
  • 2 ¼ cup flour (500 grams)
  • 1 Potato, peeled, boiled, mashed (optional)
  • 1 c warm milk (110 F or 43 C) (or may substitute with water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in large bowl: Yeast, Flour, Potato, Milk, Salt  May use dough hook, kneading for 5 minutes, or knead by hand. Knead dough until texture of dough is supple and elastic, not sticky, for about 5 minutes. With a small amount of oil on your hands gently spread the oil onto dough ball, place into a large bowl and loosely cover bowl with plastic wrap, setting aside in a warm area to rise for 1 hours. 

 Part Three  Pre-Heat oven to 425 F

Generously grease cookie sheet with 1 tsp of butter.

Place risen dough onto cookie sheet and extend dough into any round or square form.


  1. Traditional Preparation: halved cherry tomatoes, inverted and gently pushed into extended dough.  Sprinkle on top of dough:   1/8 tsp oregano, 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt, 1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, Drizzle ¼ cup Olive Oil.
  2. Try Focaccia with sliced onions spread over dough and gently pressed into dough with fingers. Add 1/8 tsp Oregano, 1/8 teaspoon Rosemary, 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt, 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese

Bake in preheated oven at 425 F  for 15 minutes. Before serving drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over Focaccia for extra flavor.

By Kimberly Crocker