Tuesday, December 06, 2005

David’s Meat Sauce

Meat sauce, or often referred to as spaghetti sauce, is ragu’. The birthplace of ragu’ is Bologna. In fact, when you intend to indicate a dish with ragu’ you would say “alla Bolognese”, a very useful tip when ordering at a restaurant. The popular conception is that it is made with tomatoes. This is not really the case. While a good ragu’ will have some tomato sauce it is primarily ground beef with some herbs. Very similar to chili here in Texas, a good chili gets the red tint from the chili powder and ground cayenne pepper.

So my meat sauce cannot be considered a ragu’ but more of a spaghetti sauce because I use a lot of tomatoes and other vegetables. It should be noted that very few Italian tomato sauces has vegetables but I developed this sauce over the years using the ingredients I had available and my kids love it. I even think Raffaella likes it but since she mostly prepares the sauces for our meals we rarely prepare it.

This sauce takes 3 days to prepare properly although the cooking time is significantly less I stop the process several times and let sit over night to balance the flavors. The acidity from the tomatoes will keep things from going bad.

Some notes on the ingredients:

1. Additionally, in season I will use fresh tomatoes. Do not use “Hot House” tomatoes, they have a great deal of water and very little meat.
2. Break, not cut, the stalks of celery and pull them apart. This will remove the strings.
3. To clean the carrots, scrape the skin with a sharp non serrated knife. The carrots can be cut into pieces if you want. The carrots substitute any sugar you may have used to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
4. I like to use an 80-20 mix on the Ground Beef. The fat is flavor.
5. Do not use the “Italian Sausage” found here in the USA. The closest to a northern Italian sausage is a good Bratwurst or some types of Polish sausage.


2 16oz cans of whole Perini tomatoes (Roma or regular canned tomatoes will work fine)
16 oz water
1 chicken bullion cube
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
1 red bell pepper (cleaned seeds removed)
2 medium carrots (cleaned)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt
Pepper (8 turns with a coarse grind)
1 lb of ground beef
1 lb of sausage


Heat the water and dissolve the bullion cube.

In a large pot place the tomatoes, the onion, the celery, carrots, red bell pepper bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the broth, cover and let simmer on medium low heat for about 3 hours stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and let sit overnight. The next morning remove the bay leaves and the celery. Pass everything through a food processor or the “boat motor” reducing to an even consistency. The sauce will go from an auburn color to a light red (the onion does that).
Turn the heat back on medium low.

In skillet sear, with some salt and pepper, the ground beef and the sausage together. Do not cook all the way just get a little color on the outside. Place the Beef-Sausage mix directly into the sauce. I suggest you leave the fat in the sauce but some may wish to drain the fat before placing in the sauce. Let this cook for another 4 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Let cool. When room temperature transfer to a glass or stainless steel bowl and refrigerate overnight. The process of blending flavors will continue in the fridge. Before using heat the amount you need on medium low heat. From the fridge this will take about 20 minutes so if you are preparing pasta put the sauce on the fire before heating the water. Also if you are making a “pasta al forno” like lasagna the sauce should be warm.


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Blogger Stefanio said...

I know some others would say different about the ragu using little tomato or passata. The thing about Italian cooking (this makes it so great), is that it is very regional. This is probably because Italy only became unified at the end of the 19th century. Infact even within the same communities recipes can be passed down generations, with each family fiercly argueing who's best!

12:46 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

I have the same problem here at home. I will be publishing Raffaella's meat sauce very shortly. She is very traditionalist so her ragu' is "alla bolognese".

I will publish her recipe shortly so everyone will have the opportunity to choose their weapon.

7:19 AM


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