Monday, July 29, 2013

My Homemade Meatsauce

For many years, I've been working on making a rich and hearty meatsauce.  I wanted to create a sauce worthy of my Italian heritage and I think this is the one. It's combination of best techniques I've picked up along my meatsauce journey, studying recipes and adding elements that really seem to add to the depth of flavor found in old world cooking. (Even if that's just a figment of my imagination, ha!)

This recipe isn't rocket science, it's really pretty simple. The only thing that's hard about it is time.  It's one of those things that takes a while to develop and the flavor that develops in that length of time, is unparallelled.

 I know in our busy schedules hovering over the stove top is luxury we don't often have, but I promise it's worth the time. (You don't have to hover really, you can get it going and just check it periodically.)

Try preparing this on a lazy Sunday afternoon. By the evening you'll have a meal your family won't soon forget.

Let's get started.

Begin by sauteing your onions and carrots.  Don't bother chopping the onions, I just use a bag of frozen chopped.  So much easier and you can't taste the difference.

Once those are cooked down a bit, add ground meat and sausage. If you want this to be leaner you can use turkey sausage.  I do sometimes.

Make a well in the center, to make room to brown the short ribs. 

Once the ribs are nice and brown remove from pot briefly and add tomato paste.  Because I never use a whole can, even the small one, I find it's very convenient to use these tubes and just refrigerate the tube for the next time.

 Add garlic to the tomato paste and let it simmer a bit. Once you can smell the garlic, you've probably cooked it long enough.

Not it's time to put the short ribs back and empty all those cans of sauce and pureed tomatoes.Get that all stirred together and add spices.

Next add the milk and season with salt and pepper.

I think one of the things that is hard for some people to figure out is how much salt and pepper to add.  While most people, myself included, leave amounts off. I wanted to kind of explain what my process looks like. I generally start by just covering the top surface of the pot with salt and pepper like this.

While I realize you can't see the salt, I pretty much covered it like the pepper you see here. I'm very much a tasting cook.  I keep a small bowl by my pot to add sauce to and taste from that bowl to see how the flavors are coming together.

Now the hard part is done.  Just turn the pot down to low and go about your business.  If you need to, set an alarm to remind you to check it occasionally.  The longer you can cook this the better.  Your house is going to smell so wonderful.

As you can tell, this is a huge pot. I think it's 7 quarts. Obviously you can cut this recipe in half, but it freezes very well, so I generally go large and freeze a large container or use the rest for my Better than Lasanga Casserole, or both.

 Given the time invested in making this sauce, I want make sure I get several meals from this.

Leslie's Authentic Itailian Meatsauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large clove garlic
1 large onion, about 2 cups
1 cup finely chopped carrot
4 pieces of beef short ribs
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs ground meat, or meatballs
3 oz tomato paste
1 to 2 cups red or white wine
2 24 oz can puree tomato
1 24 oz can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon Parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper


Saute onions and carrots in oil with short ribs until onions are translucent. Next add ground italian sausage and brown slightly. If you want to use link sausage, you can wait to add when the sauce is all in the pot and just let them cook while the sauce cooks.  Toward the end you can remove them with tongs and slice and return to pot.

Add ground meat. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make a well. Add tomato paste and let it heat.

Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together.

Add canned tomatoes.

Combine rest of ingredients and stir.

Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours—however long you have.

If adding meatballs instead, cook for a while and then add meatballs, Bring to a slow simmer, cover partially and cook for 2 1/2 hours stirring bottom often.

Serve over all types of pasta, or in lasagna.

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