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Grandma Caponigri’s Three Meat Neapolitan Sauce

Grandma Caponigri's Three Meat Neapolitan

Lisa’s paternal grandmother, Lucia Caponigri, was born in the isolated, mountainous region of Basilicata in southern Italy. There she perfected her recipe for ragu before leaving her village with Lisa’s grandfather for a life in America. Lucia and Nicola Caponigri settled in Chicago, where they raised thirteen children, giving Lucia lots of opportunity to make her famous ragu! The recipe makes plenty: it will sauce 6 to 8 pounds of pasta, but it freezes beautifully.

You can watch Lisa make this recipe on the Lisa’s Italian Kitchen YouTube channel here.

Grandma Caponigri’s Three Meat Neapolitan Sauce Ingredients:

Grandma Caponigri's Three Meat Neapolitan

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound ground veal

1 pound bulk Italian sausage
3 pounds Ground Beef Sirloin
2 cans (28 ounces each) chopped tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) (If you cannot find the crushed, use two jars of Passata)
1 tube (4 ounces) tomato paste
¼ cup sugar
8 cloves garlic, peeled, 4 each stuck on a toothpick
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon imported oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 bay leaves, on a toothpick
2 pounds spaghetti or pappardelle (or pasta of your choice)

Grandma Caponigri’s Three Meat Neapolitan Sauce Directions:

In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring a few times, until the onions are transparent. Transfer the onions and bell pepper to a very large pot.

In the same oil, brown the veal, sausage, and sirloin over medium heat. Transfer to the pot using a slotted spoon. Add the chopped and crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, and bay leaves to the pot and stir to combine everything well. Cook for 6 to 8 hours over low heat. Remove the bay leaves and garlic cloves before serving.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (if using spaghetti, 7 minutes; if using pappardelle, 4 minutes). Transfer 3 cups of the sauce to a large pasta bowl. Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl, and toss with the sauce.

Grandma Caponigri's Three Meat Neapolitan


  • Lisa Caponigri

    Lisa Caponigri is the author of This is Sunday Dinner and Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, published by Sterling Epicure. Both of Lisa's cookbooks brim with her memories of living in Italy, both as a child and as an adult raising her own family, anecdotes about her family, regional and seasonal Italian specialties, and all the advice needed to get a spectacular Sunday Dinner on the table, every Sunday of the year. She has developed a line of prepared foods and sauces called Lisa’s Italian Kitchen. Lisa debuted on HSN and has appeared on QVC. She has also appeared on a variety of television programs, including Seattle's New Day Northwest, Good Morning Toronto, Chicago's WGNLunchbreak, and New England Cooks, to name a few. Lisa is frequently consulted as an expert in Italian lifestyle and food. Lisa Caponigri lives in South Bend, IN and travels frequently to Italy to research the latest in "la dolce vita". Visit to learn more about Lisa!

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