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Eggplant and Country Ham Ragù

Eggplant and Country Ham Ragù

If you look up umami in the dictionary, there’s a picture of this dish. Between the eggplant, tomato, fish sauce, and cured meat, that savory depth of flavor hits you from all sides.


  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1½ pounds globe eggplants (about 2 small), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 slices thin country ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1–2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup store-bought tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Add half of eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until browned and tender, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with 3 Tbsp. oil and remaining eggplant. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium in same skillet and add ham, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

  • Add chiles, cocoa powder, and tomato paste, stirring to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste has turned a dark brick red and cocoa powder smells toasty, about 3 minutes.

  • Add tomato sauce, reserved eggplant, and 1 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and flavors have melded, 25–30 minutes. Add fish sauce and season with salt and pepper.

  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

  • Add pasta to pot with sauce along with butter and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook, tossing frequently, until a thick glossy sauce forms and coats pasta, adding more cooking liquid as needed. Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan and parsley.

  • Do Ahead: Ragù can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Recipe by Kindred, Davidson, NC,Photos by Elizabeth Cecil

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 780 Fat (g) 40 Saturated Fat (g) 10 Cholesterol (mg) 40 Carbohydrates (g) 85 Dietary Fiber (g) 11 Total Sugars (g) 12 Protein (g) 25 Sodium (mg) 1560Reviews SectionThis is such a divine recipe. I was scrolling through BA for ages trying to find a pasta sauce to make after purchasing a pasta maker. I scrolled back a while - 5 years it would seem - and unearthed this gem of recipe. I can't recommend it enough.The sauce is thick and rich in a wonderfully comforting way - just as a true ragu should be. We couldn't track down country ham and instead had it with proscuitto and it was amazing.I don't think i liked the taste of the chipotle in it

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