Spaghetti with white meat ragù

Oddly enough, the first time I had a taste of a white meat ragù was not in Italy, but in New Orléans just about one year ago today. It was at John Besh’s italian restaurant Domenica and I have fond memories of it.

A white ragù is very similar to a Bolognese sauce in its making and its richness, but the flavour is more subtle, quite different in fact. Because of its rather neutral (but by no means bland) flavour, I prefer using a neutral tasting herb in here like thyme or even sometimes parsley in this recipe. Some purists will tell you that a meat sauce should be served with a broad noodle like tagliatelle or pappardelle, but I prefer spaghetti.

Below is my version. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

White meat ragù

For the white meat ragù, you will need:

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
75 g pancetta, chopped
250 g ground chicken
250 g lean ground pork
250 g lean ground veal
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme OR 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional), or light cooking cream
salt and white pepper to taste
450 g spaghetti
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for serving


1. In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onion and celery until soft but not coloured, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the pancetta, chicken, pork and veal with a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat until it starts to brown, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half.
4. Dilute the tomato paste in the chicken broth and add this to the pot along with the milk and bay leaf. Bring just to a simmer and reduce the heat to low, cover the pot partially and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick, about one hour.
5. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a bit more chicken broth or cream.
6. Add the fresh thyme (or parsley) and the cream (if using) and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper.
7. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package and drain. Mix the pasta with the sauce over medium heat until combined, then turn the heat off, stir in the cheese and serve in warm bowls with more cheese at the table.

You may also enjoy:

Spaghetti alla Bolognese, Mon Food Blog
Layered polenta cake with meat ragù, Mon Food Blog
Fettuccine with ragù alla romana, Mon Food Blog

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