Monday, October 01, 2007
Three Meat Sauce (Chopped)
I prefer to make sauce with whole pieces of meat. Chopped meat, although great in hamburgers and acceptable in meatloaf, somehow always tastes bland and chewy in many "bolognese" type sauces. But since it takes longer to make sauce with whole meat, there are many occasions that call for chopped. Family dinner, which occurs after a full day at work, is one of those times. Although I guess I could precook the sauce, that would require a level of organization that I clearly lack. So chopped meat it is.
One thing that I have learned helps significantly in making chopped meat sauces is to use several different kinds of meat. This is easily accomplished from many places, including my good friends at Ottomanelli's, on 79th and Broadway. Chopped pork cooks well has a great flavor. I usually combine it with a mix of beef and veal. The following recipe is simple, and it works. I need to adjust the spices a bit, as it could use a bit more flavor. But its a good basic recipe for sauce that you can make in about an hour of total cooking time, although, of course, longer would be better. You can easily half the recipe, but I like having the leftovers, which often taste better a day later! But not two days later :(
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef (I prefer chuck for this type of dish)
One onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Olive oil to cook with
2 cans (28 ounce) whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup+ white wine or 1/2 cup+ vermouth (the wine is better if you have it around)
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt + more to taste (figure up to one more teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (you can substitute white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pasta (I prefer fusilli [pictured] for this dish, but you can use rigatoni or any wavy pasta)
EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED
Pot to cook sauce (I use a wok, which allows me to sautee the onions)
Extra Pan to brown meat
Brown the meat and drain. Set aside. Brown the onions, and add the garlic a few minutes after throwing the onions in. The onions should be a golden color, which seems to take a while. Add the two cans of tomatoes, crushing them somewhat with your hands and a fork. Add one teaspoon salt, the garlic, the vinegar, the thyme, pepper, garlic powder and one cup of wine. You may add a little bit of wine later as you test the sauce. The main flavor the wine will add will be sweetness, but it will give the sauce a fuller flavor as well.
Put the flame on medium and let the mixture come to a boil. Put the heat down to low and keep uncovered. Since you need to cook quickly, you should see some bubbling. Stir every now and then, and check the flavor, too. Add salt as you get closer to the end of cooking. I add up to second cup of wine as I cook. I like tasting the wine, and find that if it cooks in too long you lose it. The sauce will cook down to a thick, very meaty tomato sauce. It needs about an hour, but the longer the better.
I find that the pasta tastes better for this type of sauce if it is "dragged" in the sauce (there is a real Italian word for this but I can't remember it...later). Cook the pasta a minute or two less than you should, and drain it but DON'T rinse it. Throw it in a the sauce, and let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes. It really changes the flavor! Keep some plain pasta sitting around in case you have finicky children.