There is a time during the holiday season that we all get to; blur parties and canapes and restaurants and what day is it today? that we understand that we just need to have dinner. Ordinary food, in our ordinary house, with our ordinary people.
For me, spaghetti is the best dinner at this busy time of the year. It’s universally enjoyable, simple to make, and convenient on many levels.
This sauce is a creation of love because it simmers for a while, but it also freezes REALLY well and is quite usable for a weekday if thawed on the counter while you wrap presents.
The secret to this sauce is to grate the vegetables, not cut them; they melt into the sauce for flavor without adding texture. The result is a rich meat sauce that is worth every step, every ingredient, every minute.
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If you prefer not to cook with wine, you can omit the wine and add another 1/2 cup of stock OR extra cooking water right before serving to get the meat sauce consistency you want.
For cooking, I often double this recipe and freeze half for later.
If you are making the sauce ahead of time, add a few more drops of milk and some of the pasta water right before serving. Taste and add more salt if necessary; often the salty flavor goes away after freezing.
I love chopped tomatoes with large chunks in this recipe, but whole tomatoes work just as well. Just crush them with your hand before tossing them into the sauce.
Meat sauce for spaghetti
Preparation: 15 minutes
Preparation: approximately 2 hours, mostly hands-free
- ½ large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 28 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
- 1 cup whole milk
- Kosher salt
- Boiled pasta and parmesan cheese for serving
Using a grater, grate the onion, carrot and celery. Heat a large pot or skillet to medium-low heat with a drop of oil.
Add the vegetables to the skillet and saute for 5-10 minutes, sprinkling with salt, until they are very soft and lightly browned around the edges.
Add the beef, seasoning with more salt, and cook until browned and slightly crispy, breaking it up with a spoon as you go.
Add tomato paste and garlic and stir for 2 minutes.
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Add wine and stir to remove any sticky bits from the bottom of the pot. Let the wine evaporate completely, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, beef broth and balsamic glaze. Stir and add a few more pinches of salt. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the mixture is simmering but not simmering. Let the sauce simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes (stir all the way to the bottom of the pot so the sauce doesn’t stick).
When the beef broth and tomato juice have mostly evaporated (go with the sauce, not for hours), add the milk and continue stirring for another 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this time, taste and add more salt to your liking, perhaps about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt from start to finish. This amount will depend on your ingredients, but the sauce should be very flavorful at the end.
To serve immediately, cook pasta while boiling milk. I mix some of the pasta water with the sauce. To serve, I mix pasta with about 1/3 of the sauce, then add extra sauce and parmesan cheese.
To save for later, let homemade bolognese cool to room temperature, then freeze or refrigerate until serving.