Italian Meat Recipes Italian Pasta Recipes

How to make Rigatoni with Pajata sauce (The Real Italian Recipe)

Let’s now talk about a classic food of Roman cuisine: the rigatoni with pajata sauce.

This is a recipe of popular origins, traditionally prepared using calf meat, although it has been replaced by the lamb because of the prohibitions related to mad cow disease.


The pajata is related to the tradition of the “quintoquarto” and the term – purely Roman – refers to the small intestine of the calf.

This ingredient, combined with tomato, bacon and pecorino romano, gives birth to one of the symbols of Rome, even quoted by the famous actor Alberto Sordi in “Il Marchese del Grillo”.


The history of pajata sauce

The story of the pajata was born in the Roman district of Testaccio thanks to the “scortichini“,  the workers of the local slaughterhouse.

At the end of the day, these employees received a miserable pay and a bag containing the scraps of slaughtered meat: offal, feet and tongue.

The workers, after that, went to the tavern of the area with the received waste and demanded to cook something hearty with it, in order to feed the family.

So the rigatoni with pajata sauce were born, a food of poor origins – indeed, very poor – , today cooked in every Roman restaurant and sought after by tourists.



The recipe

The one we propose below is the traditional recipe,in which the use of rigatoni pasta is expected.

Of course, the type of pasta you are going to use doesn’t change the taste, so feel free to choose the one you like.

The recipe is for 4 persons


  • 14.10 oz of rigatoni
  • 28.21 oz of calf intestine
  • 1.41 oz of bacon
  • 28.21 oz of tomato sauce
  • cloves
  • 1 glass of white wine (better if dry)
  • grated Pecorino romano
  • ½ onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


  • Remove the skin from the calf intestine and cut it into long pieces of about 15 cm, close them with a nodule so they have the shape of a donut.
  • Put these pieces in a dish with a bit of vinegar on them.
  • Chop the onion, the celery, the carrot and the bacon and put them in a pan together with oil and two garlic cloves and fry them.
  • Remove the garlic and add the pieces of calf intestine, a little of salt and pepper and some cloves.
  • Add the wine; Once it evaporated, add the tomato sauce diluted with 4 glasses of water.
  • Cover with a lid and let it cook for about 3 hours, so that the sauce gets thicker (if necessary, add more water when cooking).
  • When the sauce is almost ready, cook the rigatoni till they are al dente. Place them in a plate together with the pajata sauce and garnish it with grated Pecorino romano cheese.


Buon Mangiata!

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