WRITTEN ON April 26th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Beef, Dinner, Italian, Pasta, Pork

Here in New York City it’s about 85 degrees. So I personally will be grilling something for my dinner, or maybe even finding a neighborhood place with outdoor seating. However, if you’re living in a somewhat colder climate, or just plain have a hankering for a slow cooked, warming meal, here’s my sauce recipe, as promised earlier this week. There’s nothing like a big pot of sauce simmering on the stove on Sunday evening. Make sure to keep a nice baguette or some crusty ciabatta nearby, in case stray family members wander through the kitchen and want to take a little taste. That happens in my apartment frequently! Marcella Hazan would have you leaving the fat from the meat mixture, and adding fewer tomatoes, and while she is pretty much the Alpha and the Omega when it comes to Italian home cooking, this version is more similar to the way my own mom and grandmother made it, and so that’s what I crave when I think of a lazy Sunday sauce. Try it with the pillowy gnocci from earlier this week. Orecchiette works really well here too, as the little ear shaped pasta creates perfect crannies for the sauce to nestle into. My husband likes rigatoni, I grew up eating it with angel hair (though traditionally, that’s taboo, as “real” Italians prefer lighter pasta with a lighter sauce, and heavier sauces with ridged pastas that will hold the sauce). I also love it with fresh pappardelle. So really, the sky’s the limit. Home cooking is all about figuring out what you like, and bending the rules to fit your own life and preferences. Try this sauce with your favorite pasta and let me know what you think.

Sunday Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb mixture of ground beef, pork and veal
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine (leftovers work well here. Not that I ever have any)
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (try to find a lower sodium, organic brand)
1 small can tomato paste
½ cup water
1 whole small carrot, washed but unpeeled
1 bay leaf
Red pepper flakes
Salt, pepper
1 tbsp each chopped fresh oregano, flat leaf parsley and basil
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, until hot but not smoking, about 30 seconds. Add onion and cook until translucent but not colored. Add meat mixture, cook through until browned. Drain some of the fat, return pot to stove. Stir in garlic, cook about a minute, just until fragrant. Add about ½ tsp salt. Add wine, cook two minutes until alcohol has evaporated. Add tomato paste, stir to combine. Add whole tomatoes (here’s the fun part: squish them up with your fingers. You want nice pieces of tomato in the sauce and this is the easiest way to do it), water and carrot. The carrot will absorb some of the acidity from the tomatoes and also impart a nice flavor. Add bay leaf, red pepper flakes to taste (about 1/8 of a teaspoon to start and work your way up from there), salt and pepper. This is where you use your instincts. Don’t be afraid of the salt, but remember the sauce will reduce so season lightly to begin with. You can always adjust later. See what tastes good to you. Ideally it should not taste salty, it should just taste more like “itself.” Let the sauce simmer uncovered on the stove about an hour and a half until thickened. Complete your seasoning and add your fresh herbs, simmer about 10 minutes more.

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