Monday, January 18, 2010


OK, here's our sauce. Use it wisely - it has been known to bend wills and topple governments. The entire recipe follows the picture narrative, so don't worry about jotting the ingredient list along the way.

Hey, "authentic police"! This recipe originated from an Italian grandmother that was then taught to a sweet Polish woman who then shared it with her half Polish/Italian son and then modified again with help from some guy who's family hails from both Germany and the British Isles - so chill! Not a totally pure Italian recipe here - but still amazing!

So, you need meat for this recipe. Vegetarians, avert your eyes, this sauce is NOT for you. Four pounds (yes, four pounds) in total, two of ground pork and two of ground beef. Choose your fat proportion, but if you pick fatty meat, you'll need to drain it once it is browned.

You'll also need to pick up a nice yellow onion - large. That is a knife in the foreground; I didn't say this recipe was easy, I said it was GOOD.

Chop the whole thing, large chunks, probably 1/2 inch cubes. This is a rustic recipe, so you don't have to be perfect with the knife. And yes, the onions are a required ingredient. I cannot vouch for the recipe without them.

Crush yourself three garlic cloves. We are going to use fresh and granulated in this sauce.

Heat up your pan - more heat is better! Brown the meat in batches, in a metal skillet. DO NOT USE A NON-STICK PAN!! It won't allow the meat to brown properly and glaze the pan with all the goodness. The meat in this picture is in process, not brown by any stretch of the imagination.

This isn't brown enough either. This is gray. Keep cooking it!

Too keep yourself busy whilst the meat is browning properly, slice a pound of mushrooms. We used Crimini, but you can use white button mushrooms. Oh, and for you mushroom haters, this is the only optional ingredient. The ONLY one. So, if you hate mushrooms, you'll just have to continue to be patient while the meat browns.

The meat is still browning (again, be patient) so you might as well assemble all the other stuff that's going to go into this recipe. The spices include fresh rosemary (but you can use dried), allspice, nutmeg, dried basil (not fresh), marjoram, oregano, granulated garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, sugar, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Don't freak out, the quantities are listed way at the bottom, after all the pretty pictures; taken by moi, by the way.

Yes, I meant it when I said nutmeg. In sauce. It's crazy, but it works!

OK, now that I've distracted you for several minutes, you can see properly browned meat and how all the delicious little bits stick to the pan...

And what it looks like when deposited into the sauce pot. Oh, did I tell you that your kitchen would not only smell heavenly at this point, but that it would also begin to be a mess?

And we are going to clean the pan now. With red wine. One you would like to drink. Cooking wine is VERBOTEN. If you don't drink, bribe a neighbor to sneak into the wine store and secret a bottle into your cupboard. The alcohol, she's gonna burn off. And at the same time, all the delicious brown bits should be swirled off the bottom and sides and whisked into the sauce pot with the PROPERLY browned meat (remember, brown = delicious, gray = yucky).

This is what your pan will look like once deglazed with the wine. Almost spic and span!

Heat that pan back up. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to generously coat the pan. Then add the onion you chopped what seems several hours ago.

Cook until translucent and add the crushed garlic. Stir for just a few moments after adding the garlic - we don't want it to brown, tastes bitter if brown - then add to the sauce pot.

Next you are going to add what seems to be an impossible amount of spices. Go to the list at the bottom of the narrative to see. You'll add all the spices, the sugar, salt and pepper. This is what the mixture should resemble. There is spice everywhere!

Then you can smear the tomato paste into the mixture. Make sure that you add enough to make it look nice and red. Sometimes you'll need part of a third can to have enough - as long as it looks like this, you are good.

Next, mix in the crushed tomatoes and sauce.

Starting to look really good now! You'll hardly believe how wonderful your house smells at this stage.

Smell and taste!

This is about how it should look...

Look away, mushroom haters! Add the pound of mushrooms you sliced to the sauce.

Stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least an hour, preferably two. Then turn off the heat and let set over night (no, you won't die from food poisoning - but in case you are worried, you can refridgerate at this point). DO NOT EAT IT RIGHT AWAY - it must rest.

OK, next day rolls around and you find some rigatoni from Umbria in your pantry...or some other large pasta from the store that will grab some of this thick and spicy sauce. Boil some water, cook some pasta. If you can't have gluten, buy or make some polenta - tastes just as good and is a nice twist.

Set yourself a pretty table, invite over some friends.

Pour the pasta into a nice bowl.

And pour some of your amazing sauce onto the pasta! Oh, and reheat that sauce before you do this, because cold sauce on hot pasta is just, well, never mind.

Enjoy! Drink wine, have great conversation, make some memories!

Ingredient listing:

2 LB ground beef
2 LB ground pork
1 cup(ish) of good red wine for deglazing the pan
1 large onion
Olive oil for the pan
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 LB mushrooms (your choice)
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped finely (or 2t dried)
3 tablespoons granulated garlic
1/4 cup dried oregano
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cans tomato paste
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
4 15oz cans tomato sauce
2 hugs and a big kiss, because what is a recipe without love?

And don't forget. BROWN THAT MEAT!