Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pasta with Meat Sauce

My family has come to enjoy my pasta with meat sauce recipes. I use the plural here, because my sauce comes in about three varieties: traditional, without vegetables, and with ground meat.

The first variety, which is most closely associated with the Italian Bolognese sauce, consists of cubes of beef simmered with onions, carrots, celery, beef stock, and crushed tomatoes. Now, according to the Wikipedia, my use of tomatoes may make it less than authentic, but we seem to enjoy it this way.

Sandra, however, doesn't really like when I add the finely cubed vegetables (carrots and celery) to the meat, which is about the only time that I prefer more vegetables to a dish than Sandra. If I'm in a rush, I will use ground meat (make sure it's relatively lean, about 85%) to make a quick meal. Hence the three varieties.

Below is my traditional meat sauce with notes at the bottom for additional varieties.

Bolognese Sauce

Source:My recipe that evolved over twenty some-odd years
Yield:Serves 4-6


2 ribs of celery, chopped into small cubes

1 carrot, chopped into small cubes

2 Tbs olive oil

1 ½ lbs lean beef, cut into small cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can beef broth

¼ cup red wine

1 Tbs dried basil

1 Tbs dried bacon bits (artificial is fine)

28 oz can crushed tomatoes (Contadina preferred)

6 oz can tomato paste

1 lb hearty pasta (linguine, tagliatelle, perciatelli, bucatini, or penne)

Grated hard cheese (Parmesan or Romano)

Chop the ribs of celery and carrot into tiny (about ⅛") cubes. Slice the onion thinly, and then chop to make small cubes.

Using a Dutch oven, drizzle the olive oil onto the bottom of the pot over medium-high heat, and rotate the pot until the oil covers the bottom. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onions, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add extra oil, if necessary.

Add the cubed beef and continue to cook, stirring occasionally to ensure that all the beef is cooked. Sauté the meat and vegetable mixture for an additional three minutes and then add the broth, wine, basil, bacon bits, tomatoes, and paste.

Wait until the mixture starts to bubble and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for at least twenty minutes— the longer you cook, the more chance for the flavors to "marry."

Prepare a pound of pasta according to package directions until al denté.

Serve Bolognese sauce over pasta, garnishing with Parmesan or Romano cheese, as desired.

  • Add one frozen sausage, cubed for additional flavor
  • Ground beef may be substituted for the cubed meat
  • Sandra prefers the sauce without the cubed vegetables

Bon Appetit!

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