Pasta and Meat Sauce is a classic of the Italian cuisine. Also called Pasta al Ragω, this dish is always a success and a favorite even for picky eaters and kids. Like for many other Italian recipes, some variations of the Meat Pasta Sauce recipe are found around, probably as many as the number of cooks in Italy and elsewhere. But the basics stay the same: olive oil should be used as condiment, alone or mixed with and equal quantity of butter; the Soffritto should also be part of the recipe (a finely chopped mix of carrot, celery and onion sautι in oil and/or butter) as the flavor base; the meat should be a good quality ground beef, pork, lamb or a combination of these. The recipe I am about to share with you was passed to me by a dear relative of mine, many years ago, and I like it because of all the extra ingredients he used wine and fresh herbs which give a wonderful richness to this sauce.
Ingredients and Instructions:
1 pound of good ground beef
1/2 pound of sausage or pork ground meat
1 and 1/2 cup of mixed onion, celery and carrot, finely chopped
fresh rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper
a dash of red wine or Marsala wine
1 small can of tomato puree mixed with 1 cup of water
(You can also just blend reducing to a puree some regular canned tomatoes, in which case you will need less water)
1. Over medium-high fire cook the ground beef, the sausage (skin removed) or the ground pork meat in a sauce pan, with a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil, a couple of spoonfuls of butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 10 minutes or until browned, mixing and stirring to spread the meat evenly on the bottom of the pan, so it can cook uniformly and not burn.
2. Chop finely and add a generous pinch of the herbs to the meat, while browning. This will add more flavor to the sauce. Any herbs either fresh or dry like basil, parsley (but not cilantro), thyme or rosemary, can be used.
3. When the meat is browned, add a dash of red wine or Marsala wine, mix and let sizzle for a couple of minutes to make the alcohol evaporate. This will give even more flavor to the sauce, guaranteed.
4. Add the mix of finely chopped onion celery and carrot, stir in and continue cooking, lowering the flame to low, until the veggies become tender.
5. At this point, add the tomato puree and the water to the meat, mix, bring to a very slow gentle simmer, and let it continue (lid on) for about 1 hour; the time depends on the amount of liquid used and the consistency of the tomato puree. Stir every few minutes to prevent burning. Youll know its ready when the sauce is reduced, all the liquid has evaporated and most of all when it tastes good.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over your favorite pasta, cooked al dente, and top with grated Parmesan cheese.