Rich Meat Sauce, Take 1

spaghetti

I got a major craving for pasta with meat sauce yesterday, but a long-simmered Ragu Bolognese was the last thing I needed to get started on at 7 p.m. I usually keep a supply of sauce portioned out in the freezer, but we ate the last of it ages ago, and it’s not exactly the sort of thing I cook during the summer months. I decided to make a quicker meat sauce instead, using a mixture of beef and pork, and deepening the flavor by including richly flavored ingredients and caramelizing the heck out of them.

Dinner: September 16, 2009

I used lots of onions, a generous pour of red wine, and a good amount of double-concentrated tomato paste as well as my usual canned whole San Marzanos. An hour and a half of cooking left me with a rich, meaty sauce that was just about what I had hoped for, but I think I’ll still call this a “work in progress.”

12 thoughts on “Rich Meat Sauce, Take 1

  1. That looks delicious. I never though of caramelizing the ingredients as a way to get the same rich flavor in a fraction of the time, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

  2. I’ve never tried mixing both ground beef and pork in my ragu. Will definitely give it a go next time I make it. Out of curiosity, is there a brand of pasta you like to use or do you buy it locally?

  3. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, all!

    As far as dried pasta goes, when we can afford it or are feeling splurge-y, I love Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s dried pastas. They have this beautiful, slightly rough texture that holds sauces really well. For everyday cooking, though, we generally buy the organic house Whole Foods brand.

  4. Daisy says:

    This week I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen in which they tackle this very same recipe – a bolognese sauce in under an hour. They included chopped mushrooms to bump up the meaty flavor and blitzed a slice of white bread and milk with the ground beef.

  5. This is one of those dishes that is always welcome by everyone at the table. Your idea to use the bulk of the prep time for the initial carmelization of the veggies is really good. I noticed that Lydia Bastianich always carmelizes a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste in her sauces also. I tried doing that and it does make a difference in adding more dimension to the sauce.

  6. Jennifer Hess says:

    Daisy – Those all sound like great additions!

    The Friendly Table – I picked that tip up from Lydia, too – it makes a world of difference!

    Marie – Mmmmm. I see lasagna in my future. :)

  7. When I feel like adding heft and body to a sauce, right after sauteing onions and browning the meat, I add a 1/4 cup red wine and reduce until it’s starting to brown amost into the meat. Then I add 1/4 of milk and repeat. Then I add the garlic, tomatoes and simmer. Oh and a hint of fish sauce for umami – can’t taste it, but adds complexity. :)

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