“ This is the slow-simmered meat sauce of our dreams. Simple, rustic, and rich, a few hours in the oven turns basic ingredients into something luscious and comforting. What makes it truly special are a few secret ingredients at the end. Vijay, Recipe Hunter ”
Everyone says that their “meat sauce” is the best, but in our opinion, this is the one that we come back to over and over again. This version is made with all pork, both a combination of sweet Italian sausage, with it’s fennel-spice flavor, and plain ground pork. The base of the sauce starts traditionally, with carrots, onions, celery, and garlic (minced easily in the food processor), but our first secret comes in dedicated a few minutes to frying the tomato paste until dark and deepened in color before adding any liquid. Instead of red wine, this ragu is braised in white wine, keeping it lighter. With just enough San Marzano tomatoes to create a luscious sauce and a few dried herbs, we take the help of the oven to braise the ragu, which keeps it at a slow-simmer for hours. The really unique additions come at the end, first with a cinnamon stick added during the last half-hour of cooking for extra warm spice. Right before serving, we add handful of parsley and lemon zest (also known as gremolata) which brings the entire dish to life, turning an otherwise heavy sauce into something tantalizing and lively. This has become our go-to Sunday Supper and we bet it will become yours too.
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:3 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 ribs celery
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2-3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
- Zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- ½ cup parmiggiano reggiano cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound of sturdy, tube-shaped pasta (like rigatoni, bucatini, or penne)
- Cut the onions, carrots, and celery into chunks of approximately the same size. Roughly chop the garlic. Add all of the vegetables to a food processor and pulse 20-25 times or until very finely minced. Alternatively, mince all of the vegetables finely with a knife.
- Transfer the minced vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Pulse the canned tomatoes in the food processor 5-6 times or until pureed. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Heat a large oven-safe pot or dutch oven with lid over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil then the Italian sausage. Brown for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Add the ground pork and continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes until browned, stirring and breaking up chunks into smaller pieces.
- Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl. To the pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the reserved vegetables. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and cook, stirring often until lightly browned and softened, 6-7 minutes.
- Push the vegetables to one side of the pot and add the last 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the cleared area. Add the tomato paste directly into the oil and saute for 5-6 minutes until darkened, stirring frequently. This is an essential step for flavor development.
- Stir the tomato paste into the veggies, add the crushed red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Add the white wine and allow to reduce for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on bits.
- Add the reserved pureed tomatoes, all of the dried herbs, and an additional teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and put into the oven. Braise for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes and adding chicken broth 1 cup at a time if the ragu is too dry. (I added 2 cups at the 2 hour mark). At the 2.5 hour mark, add the cinnamon stick for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Remove from the oven, remove the cinnamon stick and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Cook your pasta of choice (we suggest a sturdy tube-shaped pasta like bucatini or rigatoni) in a pot of heavily salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta cooking liquid, then drain and add to the pot of ragu. Add the lemon zest, parsley, and cheese. Serve warm with additional grated cheese.
Simmering a pot of stew at a low temperature is the key to making it tender. Instead of cooking on the stove, use the oven for an even temperature.Read the full tip >
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