Friday, June 20, 2008

Meat Sauce

After growing up in a time and house where pasta always meant spaghetti and the sauce was always the same tomato-based meat sauce seasoned with :shudder: ground oregano, once I discovered all of the different kinds of pasta out there that could be covered with all kinds of simple sauces and vegetables I never looked back. Some garlic or onion, a little thyme and basil, a can of stewed tomatoes, or fresh when they're in season, maybe some artichoke hearts, zucchini, or eggplant, and I was done. Served over short pastas like farfalle, rigatoni, rotini, penne, or my two new favorites gemelli or cavatappi, it makes a lovely meal that can be ready in about 30 minutes.

That being said, I have recently found my thoughts turning back to that old meaty sauce of my youth. Maybe it was my success with the sloppy joes that set me on the nostalgia path. Maybe it was all the packages of ground beef, turkey and pork hibernating in my freezer. Maybe it was the heavy cream left over from the ganache I have been trying to perfect.

Whatever the cause, the result was this beautiful plate of pasta with meat sauce. It's nice to reminisce every now and then.

One thing I will never go back to, however, is the tomatos sauce and tomato paste combination that was in our old family recipe. Stewed tomatoes cooked down is the only way to go.

Because I had the cream, I thought I would make a Bolognese sauce. But all of the recipes I looked at called for milk. I went ahead and used the cream so I don't know if I can call this a bolognese sauce, but I'm sure somewhere at some time some Italian chef used cream instead of milk so I'm sticking with it.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground beef (I used chuck)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz. cans whole, diced or chopped stewed tomatoes, with their juice
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup cream

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add beef and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, thyme, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer until well thickened, anywhere from 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Add cream and turn off the heat.

Serve over any kind of pasta. Top with grated parmigian or romano cheese.

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