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Spaghetti alla Chitarra with 4 meat ragu Abruzzese

This rich tasty meat lovers ragu is just the right dish for a special occasion or hearty meal!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Abruzzo, Central Italy, Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline Debono


  • 100 g lamb shoulder or shank or leg chops ( I used large leg chops and cut the meat off the bone and cubed it and then used the bones to make a stock)
  • 100 g veal rump sirloin or hind shank (without bones)
  • 100 g beef rump
  • 4 thick slices of pancetta
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks finally chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 dried peperoncino or 2 teaspoons of peperoncino flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock you can use homemade or stock cubes. I made my own lamb stock by boiling the lamb bones with 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks for about 2 hours
  • ½ glass red wine
  • 1-2 690g bottles of tomato passata I use rustica which is thicker
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 360 g spaghetti alla chitarra or normal spaghetti, bucatini, tagliatelle etc
  • Grated pecorino cheese.


  • Finely chop the onion, carrots and celery and cook them in extra virgin olive oil until they become translucent. Then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  • Cut all the meat into small cubes and the pancetta into small strips (see photo)
  • Fry the pancetta until the fat starts to brown but don’t let it get too crispy. Remove from the pan and put it with the vegetables
  • Brown the beef, lamb and veal one type at a time separately in the same pan as you cooked the pancetta , adding a little oil if necessary. Remove each type of meat once it is browned and add it to the pancetta and vegetables.
  • When all the meat has been browned return it all with the vegetables to the frying pan.
  • Add the cloves, nutmeg and peperoncino and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add the red wine and cook until the wine has reduced.
  • Add half a cup of stock and cook for a further 2 minutes
  • Add one bottle of passata and mix everything well together
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer partly covered for at least 1-1.5 hours stirring occasionally. Don’t allow the sauce to stick.
  • As the sauce starts to reduce and thicken add a ladle of stock and/or more passata. ( I alternated stock and passata) Continue doing this until the meat is tender and the sauce has a semi-liquid consistency.
  • Add more peperoncino if required and once the meat is tender add ½ cup of grated pecorino and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet. Fresh or homemade pasta will cook very quickly (around 3-4 mins)
  • Serve the pasta covered in sauce and extra grated pecorino as required


If you haven’t got any spaghetti alla chitarra, you can use normal spaghetti (preferably a little thick) tagliolini, bucatini, fettuccini or flat ribbons such as tagliatelle.
For those who may prefer not to eat pork, leave out the pancetta