The Cardinal’s Ragù

  • Serves

    makes 2 1/2 Cups

(Ragu per i Maccheroni Pasticciati)

According to Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table (William Morrow, 1992), this flour-thickened, cinnamon-enhanced sauce, which was first cooked for the cardinal of Imola in the 18th century, is a "cross between a classic ragu alla bolognese and a 20th-century French brown sauce".


  • 2 Tbsp. lard
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 14 lb. skirt steak, cut into a 1⁄4" dice
  • 4 13 cups beef broth
  • 14 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • Homemade Tagliatelle


Step 1

Heat lard and butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and skirt steak; cook, stirring constantly, until steak is well browned, 15–20 minutes.

Step 2

Heat broth in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; keep hot. Add cinnamon to steak–onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Add 1⁄2 cup broth to saucepan and reduce heat to medium; scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Simmer until evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add another 1⁄2 cup broth; simmer until sauce is almost dry, 8–10 minutes more. Add another 1⁄2 cup broth and the flour, stirring until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining broth; bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender and sauce is thick, about 1 1⁄2 hours.

Step 3

Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Toss with fresh tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice. Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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