Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce

Source: Cooks Illustrated

Okay, first thing's first. If you love cooking, you MUST get a subscription to Cook's Illustrated online! I received one for Christmas this year, and I LOVE it! It's $34.95 per year and well worth it. ALL of their recipes, techniques, equipment ratings, etc, from 16 years are on the site. It's a great value. Seriously, you will find yourself just browsing the site and before you know it, an hour will have passed! And dinner is burning! Whoops.

Okay, to the meat sauce. The recipe title perfectly conveys how the sauce tastes: a very simple, classic meat sauce. The actual preparation, however, was not simple. It took a long time to do the prep work, and you have to get out your food processor.

But it was very satisfying! There was just about 2 servings left over after we ate dinner; if you're making this with the intention of freezing some, double it. It can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for one month. I also included my favorite noodles to cook with here:

I love these noodles. They don't taste any different than the wheat noodles I typically buy, but they have protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They're good stuff. You know. If you're in the market for noodles.

No spaghetti is complete without some Roasted Garlic Bread! I roasted the garlic and prepared the rest of the ingredients for the bread while the sauce simmered.

Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce

4 ounces white mushrooms
1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into quarters
2 tablespoons whole milk
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomoatoes
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)

1. Process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down side of bowl as needed; transfer to medium bowl. Add bread, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to now-empty food processor and process until paste forms, about eight 1-second pulses. Add beef and pulse until mixture is well combined, about six 1-second pulses.

2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are browned and dark bits form on pan bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant and tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato liquid and 2 teaspoons fresh oregano (if using dried, add full amount), scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add meat mixture and cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until beef loses its raw color, 2 to 4 minutes, making sure that meat does not brown.

3. Stir in crushed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and gently simmer until sauce has thickened and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining teaspoon fresh oregano; season with salt and pepper to taste.


Joelen said...

Looks delicious! I have the online CI subscription and love it!

Angela said...

Thanks! Made this twice now: once using the food processor, and once (when I didn't want to deal with it, and clean it) I just chopped stuff by hand. Imperfect, but the outcome was equally delicious.