Mostly when I crave a meat-based sauce for pasta I make a Bolognese with ground sirloin. Sometimes, however, only Sunday sauce will do -- even on a Friday!
This simmered for a good three hours and is gorgeous -- San Marzano tomatoes, basil and oregano, garlic and onions, red wine...as well as beef short ribs, pork spare ribs and sweet Italian sausage.
Again this week, contrary to my usual methodology of a recipe for one, I made a vat of this sauce which translated to dinner for one and eight pint jars happily lined up in the freezer for this winter when the urge strikes. I recommend making this the day before if possible, leaving it overnight so the flavors marry, and then removing the bones and chopping or shredding the meat once the sauce has chilled.
2 lbs bone-in beef short ribs or 1 1/2 lbs best quality beef stew meat
1 rack of bone-in pork ribs, about 2 lbs, cut into thirds
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced, more if you really like garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves + a bit more to garnish
1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped against the palm of your hand above the pan before adding to the sauce so as not to lose any of the yummy juices)
2 cups passata or tomato puree
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a very large stock pot over medium until it shimmers. As soon as it does, salt the meat on all sides (except for the sausage) and start browning it in batches, taking care not to over crowd the pan. This can take between 3 and 5 minutes a side depending on the size and thickness of the meat. As you brown each batch, set it aside in a large bowl.
Once all of the meat has been browned, pour off all of the fat that has accumulated except for a couple of teaspoonsful. Slightly lower the heat and add the onion, garlic, oregano, thyme and bay leaf, Stir to combine. Salt lightly and cook, stirring often, until the garlic smells amazing and the onion pieces are starting to soften, a couple of minutes.
Pour in the red wine and cook for three minutes or so, stirring often to allow the alcohol to dissipate. Scrape along the bottom of the pan when you stir to add all the browned bits left from browning the meat to the sauce.
Add the passata, the tomatoes (chopped as described above), the basil and 2 cups of water to the pan and stir to combine. Salt slightly.
Gingerly add the meat and the accumulated meat juices back into the pan, making sure that all pieces of meat are covered with sauce.
Lower the hob to its lowest setting, cover the pan partially and allow to bubble very gently for three hours, stirring at the hour mark and bringing the meat at the bottom of the pan to the top each time.
At this point you can remove the pieces of meat and the bones with tongs, chop the sausage into chinks and the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bones, before adding the meat back to the pan and stirring it all into the sauce or you can allow it to cool and then refrigerate overnight before removing the meat and bones.
Serve over your favorite pasta with lots of freshly grated Parmesan and some chopped basil.
This is a multi-hour to the table dish, but with very little actual hands on time. And is well worth it.