Sugo di carne (Meat Sauce)

Sugo di carne (Meat Sauce)

In sauces by Frank Fariello8 Comments

 

When you mention Italian meat sauces, most people will immediately think of those monuments of Italian cooking, the ragù alla napoletana and the ragù alla bolognese, sauces that require hours of cooking and fairly elaborate preparation. These time-consuming ragù are, quite rightly, reserved for special occasions. Ragù alla napoletana is often called ‘Sunday sauce’ among Italian-American (and ‘il ragù della domenica‘ among Italians), an expression from back in the days when the main event of every Sunday was a grand, multi-course meal. I suspect that for most people, even in Italy, these dishes are prepared less often than that these days.

For everyday cooking, however, here is a far simpler meat sauce that may not exactly be fast food, but it certainly take far less time and effort. This generic meat sauce doesn’t have the complexity of one of those monumental sauces, but it’s plenty satisfying nonetheless, All you need is some chopped meat, some canned tomatoes and a few aromatic vegetables, and about 2 hours to spare, most of which can be spent away from the stove. I love to make this sauce with ground pork,which to my taste is more savory, but you can use ground beef as well, either instead of or in combination with the pork—in fact, it is far more common to do so.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 500g (1 lb.) ground pork (and/or beef)
  • A splash of red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large can (800g, 28 oz.) of canned tomatoes, passed through a food mill (or use crushed tomatoes)

Optional:

  • 1 spoonful of tomato paste
  • A few dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in water

Directions

In a large pot, preferably of terracotta or enameled cast iron, make a soffritto by gently sautéing the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until the vegetables are very soft, taking care never to brown them. (It helps to add a pinch of salt, which draws out the vegetables’ own liquids, as well as a spoonful of water from time to time. This both speeds up the softening process and helps avoid browning.)

Add the ground pork (or beef) to the pot, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and mixing to combine it well with the soffritto. Season with salt and pepper, and let is simmer gently, stirring almost constantly, until the meat has lost its raw look. Then add a splash of red wine and continue simmering, until the wine has evaporated.

Add the tomatoes, stir again. Then let it simmer for at least an hour, stirring only occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened and developed a deep flavor. (You can let it go longer if you like and it will only get better the longer it cooks.) If the sauce gets too thick before you think it’s done, then just add a bit of water or broth as needed.

Notes

If you like, you can add a bit of tomato concentrate (aka tomato paste) along with the canned tomatoes. The pasta adds a more intense tomato flavor as well as acting on the other hand, don’t really work that well with meat sauce, despite the popularity of ‘spaghetti bolognese’ (a fake Italian dish is there ever was one). It is also a fine substitute for ragù alla bolognese in making lasagne. But perhaps my favorite way of using sugo di carne, is to make a pasta al forno, which is featured in today’s companion post.

Sugo di carne (Meat Sauce)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Sugo di carne (Meat Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 500g (1 lb.) ground pork (and/or beef)
  • A splash of red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large can (800g, 28 oz.) of canned tomatoes, passed through a food mill (or use crushed tomatoes)
  • Optional:
  • 1 spoonful of tomato paste
  • A few dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in water

Directions

  1. In a large pot, preferably of terracotta or enameled cast iron, make a soffritto by gently sautéing the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until the vegetables are very soft, taking care never to brown them. (It helps to add a pinch of salt, which draws out the vegetables' own liquids, as well as a spoonful of water from time to time. This both speeds up the softening process and helps avoid browning.)
  2. Add the ground pork (or beef) to the pot, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and mixing to combine it well with the soffritto. Season with salt and pepper, and let is simmer gently, stirring almost constantly, until the meat has lost its raw look. Then add a splash of red wine and continue simmering, until the wine has evaporated.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stir again. Then let it simmer for at least an hour, stirring only occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened and developed a deep flavor. (You can let it go longer if you like and it will only get better the longer it cooks.) If the sauce gets too thick before you think it's done, then just add a bit of water or broth as needed.
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Frank FarielloSugo di carne (Meat Sauce)

Comments

  1. k

    Love the site, however it is annoying when you go to a site and go to print the recipe and it prints 6 pages of all the comments. You should be able to just print the recipe.

    1. Frank Fariello

      Sorry you’re having this issue. I fully agree but it’s a WP thing. The best work around I know is to email the recipe to yourself and then print it.

  2. Frank

    @Patti Thanks for your kind comment!

    @Stelio: Looking forward to your feedback. And thanks for the compliments on the new kitchen. I do feel lucky…

    @Claudia: Yes, the memories of those Sunday dinners are very dear to me, too. It seems to me that it is dying out, at least as a weekly affair, but still, it's nice to know that, at least a few times a year, the tradition lives on.

  3. Claudia

    I love the porcini in this – never think of doing that. My family in Italy notes that these days – the multi-course dinners are just for holidays – or the elders still partake regularly. Too bad it is dying (although it is a lot of food). It is just so civilized – to be at the dinner table – four hours with loved ones and friends. I hope fast-food doesn't overcome the tradition.

  4. Stelio

    Hi Frank your pasta al forno looks excellent!! We will definitely make it and tell you how it comes out. Your idea of cutting the pork / beef mixture in slightly larger pieces than ground is a very good one which I will try by grinding my meat through the biggest holes of my meat grinding machine. By the way your new kitchen is maaaaaaarvelous Frank. So comfortable to work in such luxury! In Greek they say Meyá meaning “with health”. Thanks for sharing.

Your comments are always welcome!