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Italian-American Meat Sauce

Updated July 06, 2016
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If you have trouble finding ground pork, or if you prefer to grind your own, it's really very easy. (And if you buy a piece of bone-in pork to grind, you’ll have the bones you need for the sauce.) Remove all bones and gristle from the meat, but leave some of the fat. Cut the pork into 1-inch pieces, and chill them thoroughly. Grind about half at a time in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse, using quick on/off motions, until the meat is ground coarsely. In my region of Italy, tomato paste is usually added along with the onions to caramelize a little bit. But around Naples, and the rest of southern Italy, tomato paste is stirred right into the sauce. That’s how I do it here. When the sauce is finished simmering, you can pull the meat from the bones and stir it into the sauce, or you can do what I do—nibble on it while the sauce perks away. This makes quite a bit of sauce—enough to feed a small crowd and have enough left over to freeze in small quantities for a quick pasta meal for one or two.

About8 cups, enough to fill and sauce Italian- American Lasagna, or to dress about 2 pounds pasta

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentfood mill

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, juicy, meaty

Type of Dishpasta sauce

Ingredients

  • Two 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 5 to 6 meaty pork neck bones (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano, preferably the Sicilian or Greek type dried on the branch, crumbled
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 cups hot water

Instructions

Pass the tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4 to 5 quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Make a little room in the center of the pot, dump in the garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the pork bones and cook, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and pork and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat changes color and the water it gives off is boiled away, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and oregano, then pour in the wine. Bring to a boil and cook, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the pot, until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Pour in the tomatoes, then stir in the tomato paste until it is dissolved. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a lively simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce takes on a deep, brick-red color, 2 to 3 hours. Add the hot water, about ½ cup at a time, as necessary to maintain the level of liquid for the length of time the sauce cooks.

Skim off any fat floating on top and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The sauce can be prepared entirely in advance and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Skim off any fat floating on top and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The sauce can be prepared entirely in advance and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

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