Tag: Bolognese Sauce

That Other Meat Sauce

We did a classic Italian bolognese sauce not too long ago, which reminded me that I’ve actually never posted a basic, Italian-American meat sauce. This sauce goes by many names, including Sunday sauce, since that’s the day it’s traditionally made, but for me growing up, this was just called “sauce.”


This is one of those primal recipes that always follows the same procedure, yet almost never contains exactly the same ingredients. I was raised on a blend of beef, pork, and chicken, but any and all leftover proteins can, and must, be added to the pot.

Meatballs are a great choice; as are things like pigs feet, neck bones, and other similar cuts. The tougher the meat, the better it’s going to be in this sauce. Besides playing meat roulette, I’ll also switch different herbs like basil in and out, as well as include the occasional season vegetable.

You can also vary your results here with different tomato products. I went old-school and hand-crushed whole plums, but you can also use crushed or pureed tomatoes as well. The finer and smoother the tomatoes are processed, the thicker your sauce will be, so keep that in mind. Speaking of tomatoes; yes, it is much better to caramelize the tomato paste with the onions before you add the San Marzanos, but I didn’t because Grandma didn’t, and also, I forgot. 


As long as you cook the meat long enough, and season thoughtfully, there’s really no way this sauce isn’t going to be great. So, while you may not have grown up in an Italian-American home, with this comforting sauce simmering on the stove every Sunday, your family still can. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 beef shank
2 pounds pork ribs
2 bone-in chicken thighs
1 diced onion
6 cloves garlic
3 (28-oz) cans San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed or blended smooth
(Note – any canned tomato product will work. Try with pureed or already crushed tomatoes and save a step)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups water, more as needed
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bolognese Sauce – Hip Hip Hazan!

This bolognese sauce is dedicated to the late, great
Marcella Hazan, who passed away in September, at the age of 89. She was
considered the Julia Child of Italian food, and at a time when most Americans
though “bolognese” was spaghetti sauce with chunks of hamburger it, Marcella
taught us just how magnificent this meat sauce could be.


One thing that always surprises people making this recipe
for the first time is the absence of garlic. Hazan railed against the common
belief that garlic should be added to any and all Italian recipes. She once
wrote, “the unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in
would-be Italian cooking,”
and “Garlic can be exciting when you turn to it
sporadically, on impulse, but on a regular basis, it is tiresome.”

Would a few minced garlic cloves ruin this incredibly
delicious pasta sauce? Probably not, but since this is supposed to be something
of a tribute, I decided to remain true. Speaking of ingredients, I used ground
beef here, but I’ve also done this with cubed chuck roast, which works
wonderfully as well.


Anyway, I really hope you give this classic bolognese a try,
and if you do, and there’s some extra wine around, please raise a glass, and
toast the “Nonna” of Italian cuisine in America. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 cup finely diced onions
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 1/2  tsp salt,
or to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups white wine
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes (28-oz), about 3 cups
2 cups water, or as needed

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