Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Bolognese Sauce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Do you come from a meatballs and spaghetti family or a meat sauce family?  I’m from the meatballs side of the track.  Occasionally, my family traveled to the other side.  But the “grass was not greener” over there.  At least not for me. You see, in our house meatballs and spaghetti dinners were an all-day, family affair. Everything was made from scratch (except the pasta) then set on the stove to simmer until all the flavors came together. That low and slow cooking would always fill the house with familiar and comforting aromas that had us relaxing long before dinner was ready. Our meat sauce meals, on the other hand, were hurried. They were usually reserved for hectic days when even getting a quick meal on the table was a challenge. And, occasionally, we’d make it with nothing more than ground beef and a jar of Ragu. Had it not been for the dish’s “underlying potential”–the one I discovered on the pages of my many food mags–I would have abandoned that family dish ages ago. But I didn’t. Instead, I continued to tinker with the ingredients and cooking times until the meat sauce reached “sharing status.” My final version (I should never say final) resembles a Bolognese more than the Sicilian-inspired sauce I grew up on. All that really means is I give the meat more attention than the sauce, I don’t use any garlic or herbs and I add milk and wine to mellow-out the beef and pork. It’s rich and creamy and worthy of an occasional trip across the tracks.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe

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2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
4 thin slices pancetta, finely chopped
4 thin slices prosciutto, finely chopped
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground veal or pork
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup hot milk (at least 2%)
1 cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can tomato puree
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots; cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add pancetta and prosciutto; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add ground chuck and veal. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up meat with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, until browned, 4-6 minutes. Add wine, stirring constantly, until alcohol evaporates, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add milk; cook, stirring occasionally, until milk is reduced by one-third, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, combine beef stock and tomato puree; cook until hot. Add to meat mixture. Stir in cayenne; add additional salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. About 15 minutes before sauce is done, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with meat sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6.


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Category: Beef, Main Dishes, Pasta
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