This is a full-flavored sauce that is hearty, rich and meaty while it melts in your mount with tenderness. It is deliciously smoky when you use leftover shredded smoked brisket. Serve it over pasta, gnocchi or polenta. The red wine adds acidity to balance out the richness.

The great thing about the long smokes with big pieces of meat is the quick and easy recipes you can make with the leftovers.

Remember, you have already done all the hard work, so it really doesn’t need to cook for hours and hours. If you were going to make a ragu like this from scratch, it would take quite a long time to cook the meat low and slow to make it tender enough.

You can add some peas and/or corn to the mix at the end to lighten it up and add some nice bright color.

What Is a Ragu?

A ragu is simply a tomato-based meat sauce with onions, usually made with red wine. Bolognese sauce is a ragu, but there are a million variations, some of which include other vegetables, some of which don’t. Some use white wine, some use no wine. Some use beef, some pork, some lamb and some use… uh, horse. I think we’ll stick with brisket here.

Serve It Up With…

  • Pasta – Pappardelle, rigatoni or farfalle. You want a wide pasta that can be a vehicle to transport the ragu and absorb its flavors.
  • Gnocchi (pictured in this post) – Another hearty base for ragu (it’s not technically pasta) that both stands up to the ragu and becomes part of it.
  • Creamy or crispy polenta – Unlike with pasta, with polenta the ragu is served on top, not mixed in.
  • Risotto – Delicious served on creamy risotto where you can mix in the ragu to create a meal that will keep you warm and full for a long time.
  • Side salad – This is a perfect accompaniment to balance out the rich ragu.
brisket ragu with gnocchi close up

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brisket ragu with gnocchi in bowl overhead

Brisket Ragu

In the never-ending quest for creative and elevated uses for our leftover smoked meats, this brisket ragu is amazing and so comforting.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 lb leftover cooked brisket shredded
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Finely chopped parsley


  • Heat olive oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onions with the carrot and salt until just starting to turn golden. Add garlic cloves and cook for another minute. (About 10 minutes total.)
  • Stir in the tomato paste.
  • Add the shredded brisket. Then add wine, bay leaf and thyme. Stir together.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the desired sauce consistency is reached, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes to redistribute the flavors.
  • Be sure to taste before adding any salt or pepper, since your brisket might have plenty of seasoning. And pasta should be cooked with plenty of salt in the water (2 Tbsp per pound of uncooked pasta).
  • Serve mixed into pasta or gnocchi (or serve over polenta or risotto) with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.


  • Optional: Add crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce after the tomato paste if you want a more tomato-y texture.
5 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    We made this tonight with the leftover brisket my husband smoked yesterday. We love smoking a large brisket and having leftovers, but many of the dishes we make with the leftover brisket taste pretty much the same. We loved this dish and the different flavors it gave to the meat. We followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect. We will make this again.

    1. Sounds amazing, Tina! Thanks so much for sharing. I agree that it’s great to make something totally different from the typical BBQ and it’s just such a comforting dish. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Good stuff! Made it without the herbs and parmesan and it worked a treat on top of some pan fried gnocchi. Looks like it would work really well in a burger or a pie too! I’m always left wondering what to do with left over smoked brisket usually i just shred it and add sauce, chuck it in the microwave and whack it in a burger, but I’ll be changing that from now on. Thank you =)

  3. 5 stars
    We made these with the leftover brisket we smoked and WOW! Now I want to make all the recipes on your website. Another winner!