The other night I was planning to make Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner. But, as always seems to be the case before vacation, work was crazy and I didn't have an opportunity to make the meatballs in advance. By the time I was done with work the thought of rolling all those meatballs was daunting.
Thankfully SP suggested meat sauce instead. I turned to my go-to Italian cookbook - Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen - and found her recipe for Meat Sauce Bolognese.
I had all the ingredients on hand, but not the 2-3 hours to cook it. Never fear - this was incredible after only an hour, so don't be dissuaded by the proposed cook time. It was easy to throw together and let simmer on the stove while I cooked the angel hair, my current favorite pasta shape, and chopped the ingredients for this salad.
Meat Sauce Bolognese
Slightly modified from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely shredded (about 1/2 cup)
2 ribs celery, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry red wine (or broth)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
28oz can crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups hot water, or as needed
Heat the olive oil in a wide, 3 to 4-quart pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Crumble in the ground beef and pork and continue cooking, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat or remove the pan from the heat and use a crumpled paper towel to drain off any extra fat.
Add the wine (or broth) and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the wine is evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, toss in the bay leaves and season lightly with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is dense but juicy and a rich, dark red color. (Most likely, a noticeable layer of oil will float to the top toward the end of cooking.) This will take about 2 to 3 hours - the longer you cook it, the better it will become - but an hour is also fine.
While the sauce is cooking, add hot water as necessary to keep the meats and vegetables covered. The oil can be removed with a spoon or reincorporated in the sauce.
Serve over pasta.