Everyone should have a great meat sauce in their cooking arsenal — my personal go-to is a great bolognese, an Italian beef ragu that’s made even better with veal and pancetta. Slow cook this for an hour or so —letting the flavors meld together and the smell cloak your house in the aromas of grandma’s kitchen (if grandma is from Northern Italy).
A couple to tips for meat sauce:
1) Buy a big slab of pancetta or bacon and ask the butcher in your supermarket to grind it for you. If you can’t do that, then you can pulse it through a food processor.
2) Let half of the wine cook out before adding your milk.
3) Make sure your really chop your vegetables finely. Sometimes as a short cut, I grate them first and then chop them. Just know that they give out a lot of water like this, so let them sit on some paper towels before sautéing them.
4) The longer you let this cook the more delicious it gets.
5) Double up on the recipe and then freeze small portions in ziplock bags so that you can quickly defrost them for an easy weeknight dinner
- 2 pounds of dry pasta of your choice
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 pound of ground veal (can replace with another pound of beef)
- ½ pound of ground pancetta or bacon
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1½ cup of white wine
- 1½ cup of whole milk
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dry thyme
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- In a large pot or dutch oven, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in some olive oil with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. When the vegetables begin to soften, add the pancetta and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes and stir the mixture, cooking for 1 more minute. Remove the vegetable mixture from the pot, leaving the oil, and set aside.
- In the same pot, cook the beef and the veal over medium-high heat until it is browned and cooked through. Add the vegetable mixture to the meat mixture.
- Add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes until about half of the wine has cooked out. Then add the milk and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the sauce to cook for 1 hour over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If at any point it looks too thick you can add water or chicken stock to loosen it up a bit.
- When you are ready to serve, cook your pasta al dente according to package instructions and save a cup of pasta water before draining it. In a skillet, heat up as much sauce as you need and add the pasta to the skillet. Stir the sauce and pasta together and add pasta water to loosen the mixture as needed.
- Serve with parmasean.