Saturday, March 2, 2013

Essential Red Sauce with Meat

Red Sauce

Really, lots of meat... no seriously, I mean a whole lot of meat! The foundation for this recipe came from one of the best ever Italian cooks, my Polish mother-in-law!

My own version is seriously heavy on the meat and cooks for hours with the intention that it be used for a variety of Italian favorites. Make this sauce early in the week and have some that night with spaghetti and a few of the simmered meatballs. Don’t fret about running out of sauce – this recipe makes enough to feed your family with the aforementioned spaghetti plus at least three more killer dishes which I will be posting shortly.

# 1   Lasagne Imbottite - I slice and use some of the meatballs along with this sauce and a few other surprise ingredients.

# 2   Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Fennel – Rich and sweet and slightly smoldering under a blanket of bubbly, browned Mozzarella.

# 3   The Big Braciole - Stuffed with egg yolk-rich cheese and simmered in this sauce until super tender.

Essential Red Sauce with Meat
Yield: 6 Quarts     Preparation Time: 30 Minutes     Cooking Time: 4½ Hours


• ¼ Cup Olive Oil
• 2 Cups Onion, finely chopped
• 4 Cloves Garlic, mashed into a paste
• 3 Cups Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
• 1½ Pounds English-Cut Beef Short Ribs, lightly seasoned with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage in casings, cut into 1½” pieces
• 36 Ounces Tomato Paste
• 2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes, 29 ounces each
• 1 Can Tomato Puree, 29 ounces
• 1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, 29 ounces
• 5½ Cups Water, at room temperature
• 1⅓ Cups Dry Red Wine
• 1 Bay Leaf
• 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
• 2 Teaspoons Dried Basil
• 1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
• 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
• 1 Batch of Meatballs from Heaven

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat and add Olive Oil. When the Oil is hot, add the Onions and Garlic and cook until the Onions become translucent. Add the Mushrooms and continue to cook until the Mushrooms are soft. Transfer the Onions, Garlic and Mushrooms to a large (12 to 15 quart) stock pot set over low heat and return the fry pan to the heat.

Step 2. Sear the Short Ribs on each side in the hot fry pan and then remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Then similarly cook the Italian Sausage pieces just to sear the outside and remove to join the Short Ribs.

Step 3. Add the Tomato Paste to the hot fry pan and cook stirring until the paste darkens slightly. Transfer the browned Tomato Paste to the stock pot and stir in the Crushed Tomatoes, Tomato Puree and Diced Tomatoes. Add some of the Water to each of the cans from the Tomatoes to rinse and then add to the stock pot. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the Red Wine, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Basil, Sugar and Salt.

Step 4. Add the Short Ribs, the Sausage Pieces and the Meatballs to the sauce and gently stir to distribute the meats evenly throughout. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to simmer for at least four hours, stirring every half hour. After 4 hours, check the seasoning and add Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste. Check the Short Ribs for tenderness – the sauce will be done when the Short Rib meat has come off the bones and has melted into the sauce. Remove the bones and any chunks of fat remaining from the Short Ribs.

Step 5. Remove the sauce from the heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the Italian Sausage pieces and the Meatballs to separate bowls and cover each for later use.  Allow the sauce to cool slightly and transfer to quart sized storage containers. Freeze what you don’t use in the next few days for up to 2 months.

Tips and Trending

~ The recipe can be divided in half with success if you don’t think you’ll use all 6 quarts of the sauce. But make the whole batch - you can always give some away and become someone’s BFF (Best Food Friend)!

~ Don’t worry about using canned tomato products as long as they are of good quality. They are one of the few conveniences that I cannot be without. Sample the brands available and find one or two that you think tastes the freshest. Sure there’s going to be some added preservatives and such, but unless you’ve put up your own tomatoes last summer, these should be a pantry staple.

~ This sauce, like most simmered tomato dishes, will continue to develop flavor complexities after the cooking time is finished. Try some with spaghetti for dinner right out of the cooking pot and then again the next day after a night of refrigeration – magic happens!

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