After the war, once meat was available, Annunziata and most of the mothers in Naples made this Neapolitan ragu nearly every Sunday. It is best prepared the day before you need it.

Macaroni con ragu alla Napoletana


8 thin slices of beef

Sea salt

Black pepper

Flat leaf parsley

3 garlic cloves

Toasted pine nuts

8 thin slices smoked pancetta

Extra virgin olive oil

1-2 dried chillies

1 large onion

125ml dry white wine

3x 450g tins San Marzano tomatoes

Bay leaf

Fresh basil



Take the slices of beef and lay them on a chopping board. Flatten them with a rolling pin. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add some chopped flat leaf parsley, some finely chopped garlic and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Cover with a thin slice of smoked pancetta.

Roll each into a cigar shape and secure with some string, or a toothpick.

Warm about 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wide saucepan and add the braciole, browning them on all sides. Set them aside.

Make a soffrito:

In the same saucepan add enough extra virgin oil to cover the bottom. Sauté 2 chopped garlic cloves and one or two dried pepperoncini crushed to flavour the oil. Add a large onion, finely chopped, and allow to cook slowly until it is soft and translucent.

Raise the heat and add a glass of dry white wine, boiling until the alcohol evaporates.

Add the tins of San Marzano tomatoes, liquidised. Add a fresh bay leaf and the braciole and any juices that have collected.

Bring to a simmer and slowly cook on a gentle heat with the lid half off for 2 – 3 hours.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and add a bunch of fresh basil to lift the flavour of the ragu.

Serve with macaroni such as mezze rigatoni or penne rigate. Add plenty of grated Parmigiano. Serve the meat in the middle of the table with a large dressed salad and a plate of sautéed greens