Sugo alla Contadina

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Discover the rich flavors of the Italian countryside with our Sugo alla Contadina recipe, a robust tomato sauce simmered with succulent beef and red wine, perfect for a cozy family dinner.
Freezer Friendly

Imagine the rolling hills of the Italian countryside, the scent of fresh tomatoes and herbs wafting through the air, and a table set for a feast that brings warmth to the heart. That’s the essence of Sugo alla Contadina, a traditional farmer’s sauce that embodies the simplicity and richness of Italian cooking. This sauce, with its tender beef and robust flavors, is a tribute to the generations of farmers who have cultivated the land and brought such incredible flavors to our tables. It’s not just a recipe; it’s a culinary journey that invites you to savor every bite and create memories around the dinner table.

Customizing this Recipe

  • To make a vegetarian version of Sugo alla Contadina, replace the beef with a mix of hearty vegetables such as mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini. Sauté these vegetables until they’re tender and caramelized, then proceed with the rest of the recipe as written. The key is to build layers of flavor with the vegetables, herbs, and red wine, creating a sauce that’s just as satisfying without the meat.
  • Chuck roast is my preferred cut of beef for braising. But, if you can’t find it, you could easily use brisket, top round, or bottom round roast instead. Even a pork shoulder roast would work well in this recipe. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you could use some oxtail, though you’ll need to shred the meat away from the bone before serving.
  • If tomatoes aren’t in season, don’t let that stop you from whipping up a batch of this sauce! See the recipe tips below for how to adjust this recipe using canned tomatoes.
  • While store-bought pappardelle will work just fine in this recipe, we really recommend trying to get your hands on some fresh pasta. It will help elevate your sauce to unbelievable heights!

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply warm the sauce over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally until heated through. If the sauce has thickened too much, you can thin it with a little water or broth to reach the desired consistency.

Freezing and Reheating

Sugo alla Contadina freezes beautifully. Cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space for expansion. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight, then warm it on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a splash of water or broth to adjust the consistency.

Sugo alla Contadina

Sugo alla Contadina

Prep Time:
20 min
Cook Time:
2 hour
Total Time:
2 hour, 20 min
Equipment Needed
  • 2.2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pappardelle pasta, cooked al dente
  • Fresh grated pecorino cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the beef chunks and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Allow the wine to reduce by half, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Return the beef to the pot.
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened, shred the meat and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  7. Serve the sauce over cooked pappardelle pasta, garnished with fresh basil leaves and topped with fresh grated pecorino cheese.
Recipe Tips
  • If you find the sauce to be a little too acidic, you can fix this by stirring in a little bit of sugar to balance it out.
  • If tomatoes aren’t in season but you still have some canned from the previous summer, you can use those here! To do so, you’ll want to use 1 quart of canned tomatoes (or approximately 2.2 lbs). Drain the excess juices from your tomatoes first before adding them to the sauce, otherwise it may come out watery. Also, since the tomatoes are already partially cooked, you may need to reduce the cooking time.
  • To make this recipe in a crock pot, follow the initial steps using a pan on the stove. Once you’ve added the tomatoes and returned the beef to the pot, transfer everything to the crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. This slow cooking method allows the flavors to meld beautifully and the beef to become incredibly tender.
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