Broken Meatball Ragu Recipe

It's like a grown-up version of spaghetti and meatballs.
Broken Meatball Ragu Recipe
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours


for the oven-dried tomatoes:
3 (28-ounce|794-gram) cans whole peeled San Marzano DOP Tomatoes
6 tablespoons|100 grams granulated sugar
6 tablespoons|65 grams kosher salt
6 teaspoons|22 grams freshly ground black pepper
nonstick cooking spray

for the garganelli:
1 ⅓ cups|250 grams durum flour
1 ½ cups|250 grams Caputo “00” pasta fresca
33 grams|3 tablespoons semolina
8 large egg yolks
2-3 large eggs


for the broken meatballs:
½ head garlic
6 ounces|175 grams ground beef
6 ounces|175 grams ground veal
¾ cup|50 grams grated Parmigiano Reggiano
¾ cup|50 grams grated pecorino
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 large egg
4 ounces|90 grams bread
½ cup|120 ml whole milk
1 medium yellow onion

for the guanciale sauce:
½ pound|250 grams ground guanciale
1 large red onion, finely diced
pinch chile flakes
2 ½ cups|550 ml tomato juice (strained from 2 (28-ounce|794-gram) cans whole peeled tomatoes)
½ cup|125 ml chicken stock

for the breadcrumbs:
¼ cup|60 ml olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed
¾ cup|80 grams coarse bread crumbs
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

to finish:
kosher salt, to taste
½ cup|125 olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 shallots, finely diced
12 ounces|340 grams guanciale sauce
12 ounces|340 ml San Marzano tomato juice
8 ounces|227 grams chopped oven-dried tomatoes
broken meatballs
12 ounces|340 grams grated Pecorino Toscano cheese, plus more to serve
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped basil, plus leaves to garnish
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs


  1. Make the oven-dried tomatoes: Set the oven to 225°F. Spray an oven rack with non-stick cooking spray. Place the oven rack over a roasting tray. Drain San Marzano tomatoes, reserving the tomato juice. Mix sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place the drained tomatoes on the oven rack. Sprinkle the salt mixture over the drained tomatoes, coating as evenly as possible. Place the tomatoes in the oven and allow to cook until tomatoes are partially dried, about 1 hour. Remove tomatoes from oven and let them cool before roughly chopping them.
  2. Make the garganelli: Place dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Gradually add in the yolks and whole eggs. Depending on the humidity of the environment, more or less whole eggs will be needed to achieve desired consistency. Dough should appear a bit dry and firm; it will soften and relax as it sits and hydrates. Remove from mixer, wrap in plastic and allow to rest for at least an hour. Pass through sheeter, cut into 3-inch squares, then roll each square into a giant garganelli shape using a 1-inch diameter dowel and a cavarola board. Store in freezer until ready to cook.
  3. Make the meatballs: Heat the oven to 450°F. Wrap the garlic in foil and cook until roasted and soft, about 30 minutes. Squeeze the garlic out, discarding the skins, and place in a large bowl with the beef, veal, cheeses, pepper, salt, parsley, and egg. Place the bread in a large bowl and cover with the milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, then squeeze out all the milk, discarding it. Add the bread to the bowl with the meat and cheeses. Meanwhile, place the onion in a food processor and purée. Squeeze out all the liquid, then add the onion to the bowl. Gently mix until everything is combined, taking care not to over-mix. Roll into 2 ounce|50 gram balls (about 2 tablespoons). Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool and then break meatballs into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  4. Make the guanciale sauce: Place the guanciale in a large saucepan over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and chile flakes and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato juice and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced and thick, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside to cool.
  5. Make the breadcrumbs: Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until the garlic is golden, 2 ½ minutes. Add the breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are golden, 4 minutes. Lay the finished bread crumbs out on paper towels to cool. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook garlic and shallot in olive oil until fragrant and garlic is cooked through, 2 ½ minutes. Add guanciale sauce and tomato juice and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add the oven dried tomatoes and meatballs. Drop pasta into the boiling water and allow to cook until desired doneness. Remove cooked pasta from pot and drop it into the pan. Toss the pasta with the sauce to coat. Add butter and pecorino. Toss until cheese and butter have melted. Add the chopped basil and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning with salt. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with toasted bread crumbs, more pecorino cheese, and small basil leaves.

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