Rustic Pork and Fennel Ragu

Hooray, it’s Friday! The sun is shining and I’m about to head to the balcony for a well-deserved glass of white wine before the sun sets. Where has the week gone? It just seems to have flown past. We’ve been hard at work on the house getting lots of repairs done, and of course, there have been lots of new recipes cooked up in the kitchen. It’s so nice to be able to look out the kitchen window and watch the whole landscape slowly change from winter brown to spring green.

It’s still quite chilly though, even with the sun shining, which means we aren’t quite into salad territory yet. Today’s recipe is the sort of recipe I love: maximum flavour, minimum effort. Rustic Pork and Fennel Ragu tastes like you’ve been slaving over a hot stove for hours, yet it takes under half an hour from whoa-to-go. The secret? Using coarse, country-style pork sausages instead of mince. Because sausages are already pre-seasoned, they add a huge whack of flavour to the dish, saving you hours of cooking time.

It’s important to use the coarsest, Italian-style sausages you can find with high meat content. If your local supermarket doesn’t have any, consider visiting your local butcher, they may even make you some up fresh. When you’re buying fennel seeds, look for seeds that have still a tinge of pale, mint green, they will be fresher with much better flavour.

I’ve made some fabulous, fresh pappardelle this morning for this pasta, but you can use any pasta you like. Keep an eye out tomorrow for my super easy fresh homemade pasta recipe.

Have a fantastic weekend! x J

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Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!

Rustic Pork and Fennel Ragu

Rustic Pork and Fennel Ragu

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Rustic Pork and Fennel Ragu is rich, flavoursome and truly delicious. Made in under half an hour it’s the perfect topping for fresh pappardelle.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 country-style pork sausages, skin removed
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
  • ½-1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 400 g tin whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • sea salt and black pepper

to serve:

  • 350-400 g fresh pappardelle pasta
  • 75 g Parmesan, grated


Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, crumbs in the sausages, breaking them up with your fingers as you go. Add the garlic, fennel, rosemary and chilli flakes to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage meat as finely as possible, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until the sausage begins to colour.

Mix the wine with the balsamic vinegar and pour into the pan. Allow to simmer for 1 minute, then use a pair of clean scissors to chop the tomatoes right in the tin. Add the tomatoes, sugar and half a tin (the tomato tin!) of water. Season with back pepper, give it all a good stir, then simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the ragu is thick and rich. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if necessary.

Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle in a large pot of boiling salted water until al-dente. With fresh pasta, this only takes a few minutes, dried pasta up to 10 minutes. When the pasta is cooked but still has a little bite, drain into a colander, rinse with cold running water, then toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

When the ragu is cooked, toss well with the pasta and divide between four warmed plates. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve. This is lovely with a simple rocket/arugula salad and a lighter style red wine like a Primitivo or pinot noir.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g


I can’t get fresh pappardelle (or any pappardelle!) what can I use instead?

Tomorrow’s recipe is for fresh homemade pasta! If you can’t wait that long or don’t fancy making it yourself, any dried pasta will do, though don’t use spaghetti. For a full meal, I usually cook 100g dried pasta per person.

What do you mean by country-style sausages?

For this ragu to be extra delicious, you need high meat content, coarsely ground sausages. Anything that is finely ground or more of a luncheon sausage texture will not work as well here.

Can I use other types of sausages or just mince?

I think this recipe would work well with lamb sausages, I’d swap the fennel for oregano though and maybe crumble over a little tangy feta cheese. Mice works but sausages are what makes this recipe quick as they are pre-seasoned. If you are cooking with mince you’ll need a longer cooking time and to season more generously. Use a 500g pack of pork mince.

Why is there sugar in this recipe?

Good question! I find, unless you are using very expensive, high-grade tinned tomatoes (I don’t!) that they are often a little on the sour side and need some help. Feel free to leave it out, or substitute with 2 tsp tomato paste.

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Looking for more Italian recipes? Why not try:

Italian Summer Stuffed Peppers

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food, architectural and landscape photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.
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