Tag Archives: Ragu

The DelGrosso Family

6 Jan Colle Sannita

When I was a child, one of my earliest recollections of my “identity” as an Italian was watching my father and my uncle hang sausage in my uncle’s attic to dry, filled with the rich smells of the ground pork, the pungent fennel, the aromas of the spicy peperoncino. From that moment in time, I always thought of my Italian identity as one directly associated with food. We even make this association in American society, as we think every Italian we meet can cook, am I right?

My family (and the DelGrosso surname) originates from a town in Italy named Colle Sannita. My Great Great Grandfather was Guissepantonio DelGrosso, and his wife, my Great Great Grandmother, was Pasqualina Viola.


Guissepantonio DelGrosso and Pasqualina Viola

They gave birth, to my Great Grandfather, Giorgio DelGrosso, who went on to marry Innocenza DiMuccio who then gave birth to my Grandfather, Giovanni DelGrosso. My Grandfather, together with his mother, and his brother, Antonio, immigrated to the United States in November of 1907 on a ship from Naples, Italy called the Principe de Piemonte (which, interestingly, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1917). From there, my Grandfather went on to marry Michelina DiMatteo and they had 6 children, one of which was my father Robert DelGrosso. I will save the family history of the DiMatteo family for another time, for now I want to salute the town of Colle Sannita, my homeland!


Wedding Photo of my Grandparents

I have been told that there are two distinct branches of the DelGrosso’s from Colle Sannita, one of noble pedigree, and the other of peasantry. I imagine that since my family left Colle Sannita for a better future, we were lesser of the two branches of DelGrosso’s! In fact, there are still many DelGrosso’s in Colle Sannita today! The typical surnames of Colle Sannita are Del Grosso, Palmiero, Zeolla, Viola, Tosto, Iacobaccio, Piccirillo, Vessecchia, Mutino, Zerrillo, Nista, Boscarelli, D’Emilia, Nigro, Pannella, D’Agostino, Basile, Iamarino, Marino, Tedesco, Finella, Finelli, Di Paola, Martuccio, Scrocca, Pilla, Piacquadio, Mascia, Petriella, Viscio, Vignogna, (Alderisio, Paolucci, de Paulis, Meomartini, Palmieri, Grasso, Piacquadio and del Grosso were the nobles families of Colle in the past), and another famous American family the Basilone’s. Anyone ever hear of John Basilone?

Colle Sannita is small town in the Province of Benevento in the Italian region of Campania. It is located about 80 km northeast of Naples. The name of the town derives from the “hill”, where the historical center of the town lies and its history goes as far back as Norman times (1340’s). It is a beautiful town on a hill!

Colle Sannita

Colle Sannita, Italy

I have fortunately been able to make numerous connections to my past through my new friends (and possibly family!) in Italy. The pictures posted here were taken by one of those friends, Fabio Paolucci, who also was able to help me trace my family history as he is also a genealogist! He is the administrator of the Facebook group called Colle Sannita! Collesi e oriuni di Colle nel mondo! Fabio has also sent us the gift of a dish typical of Colle Sannita:


(Piatto tipico di Colle Sannita)

Yield: 6 people

  • 1 kg. Durum Wheat Flour
  • 1 egg
  • Water
  1. Put the flour on a surface and make a well. Crack the egg in the center of the well and add the water a bit at a time.
  2. Pull the flour into the well a bit at a time until it is completely incorporated.
  3. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until it is firm.
  4. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough making the “pettola”, that is the dough rolled out to a thickness of 6-7 cm.
  6. Cut into 2-3 cm strips. Then cut each strip into small pieces.
  7. Each piece must then be “dug” (“cavato” hence the name cavatelli) with three fingers (index, middle, ring finger)
  8. Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet until ready to cook (You can freeze them by placing the sheet in the freezer first so they freeze separated, then placing the frozen cavatelli into a storage or freezer bag.
  9. Serve with a ragu and a sprinkle of parmigiano and a basil leaf.

    Colle Sannita

    Piazza Giuseppe Flora, Colle Sannita

Ragu ai Braciole

(Tipico di Colle Sannita)


  • 4 veal chops or cutlets, pounded flat
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggino, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Wine

Sauce (Salsa):

  1. Prepare veal by pounding them thin and flat.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and spread some cheese and parsley on each chop.
  3. Roll up each chop and secure with some butchers twine (3 pieces of twine should do)
  4. Heat some oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat and brown the Braciole on each side.
  5. When all are nice and browned, add the white wine and reduce to its almost completely dry.
  6. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, Add the tomato sauce and the basil, season to taste. Serve with the cavatelli!

Saluti da Colle Sannita

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Chorizo Ragu

28 Dec

In keeping with my mission statement of combining Italian and Mexican cuisine on one plate, this week I bring you Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chorizo Ragu!  We all know gnocchi as a thick, delicious, potato based Italian dumpling. Like most Italian dishes, there is a great amount of variation in recipes across all of the regions of Italy.  My family has always made the potato and flour version.  Normally in Italy, gnocchi are a first course dish. This dish is made entirely hecho a mano (handmade) so plan to spend some time in the kitchen! The result is well worth it; a rich, fulfilling dish of Italian gnocchi with a slightly spicy, tender Mexican chorizo ragu. I recommend this first course to accompany a main of Grilled Salmon!

Mexican Chorizo

  • 2 – 2 ½ lbs. of ground pork (use the pork shoulder)
  • 8 Chile Guajillo
  • 6 Chile Ancho
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled.
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ tablespoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dry marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 6 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Chop the pork into cubes and put into the freezer for about 20 – 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.
  2. Put the salt, paprika, bay leaves, black pepper, cumin, oregano, marjoram, coriander, thyme, cloves, allspice into a spice grinder and grind them into a nice fine powder.
  3. Rinse the guajillo and ancho chiles with some water and toast on a comal. Then place into very hot water and cover. Let them soak for 30 minutes.

    Toast the Chiles

    Toasting the Chiles

  4. Remove the pork and season with the spice powder, make sure it is coated well using all the spice powder. (I like to grind the pork seasoned as it ensures a nice mix)
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the seeds, stems, and veins from the chiles and place in a blender with the garlic and the white vinegar. Blend into a smooth puree.
  6. Take you grinder and use the coarse grind plate and grind the pork into a large mixing bowl.

    Grind Pork

    Fresh Ground Pork Shoulder

  7. Add the chile mixture to the pork and mix well. Cover and place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.


    Fresh Chorizo before "curing"

  8. After 24 hours take a bit, form into a patty and fry to check seasonings. Adjust seasonings if necessary (I have never adjusted them).
  9. At this point you can use as is or stuff into casings.


Chorizo Ragu

  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs. fresh pork chorizo
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 – 28 oz. cans of San Maranzano tomatoes (whole, peeled, drained)
  1. Take the chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and put in a food processor and pulse until it’s a nice dice (this is your mirepoix!).
  2. Take the drained tomatoes and break them up with your hands or a potato masher. Set aside.
  3. Take a large saucepan and medium-high heat and add the olive oil, once it is hot add the mirepoix (your onion, carrot, celery, garlic). Sautee for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chorizo and stir to break it up, add the salt and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the milk and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato and bring to a slow boil, then turn heat down and simmer over low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chorizo Rag

Chorizo Ragu

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Nutmeg
  1. Quarter potatoes and steam in a large stockpot by placing a colander in pot with about six inches of water. Steam for about 35-40 minutes or until very tender.
  2. Once cool enough to touch but still warm, remove skins and mash well with a fork or use a potato ricer, add salt and pepper to season.
  3. Take 1 cup of the flour and place on a floured work surface, make a well in center and spoon in the mashed potato mixture. Continue to work into a dough, adding just enough flour to hold the dough together.  The dough should take about 2 ½ cups of flour total (give or take a ¼ cup).
  4. Once dough is well formed, roll out into a rectangle and divide into 6 equal pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky.
  6. Cut each rope into about 20 pieces.
  7. Roll each piece over tines of the back of a fork to indent.  Transfer to floured baking sheet.
  8. Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi for about 5-6 minutes (once they float to the surface, cook for another 2 minutes).

    Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chorizo Ragu