Sunday, April 22, 2012

Steve's Homemade Pasta Meat Sauce

1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 stalks celery finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how well you like garlic) finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (McCormick's Just A Pinch is what I use)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes (a bit more expensive, but better flavor from San Marzano peeled tomatoes)
1 15 ounce can regular tomato Sauce
1/2 cup DRY red wine (Burgundy, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

1. Heat a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot, add ground beef and brown in batches. This is the first key. Browning in batches ensures the beef will brown, and not steam. Drain ground beef and set aside.

2. In same pan or dutch oven, over medium heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes. Now add chopped garlic,  and 2 tablespoons (you can use more if you like) Italian seasoning. Cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes.

3. Add  tomato paste, and stir to combine with the vegetables. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Return browned ground beef to pan, and stir to combine.

4.Now add can of whole peeled tomatoes. Using an old fashioned potato masher (you could use a spoon, but a potato masher prevents the tomatoes from becoming projectiles) crush the tomatoes in the pan. Do not be gentle. This is the second key. Crushing tomatoes in the pan means you will get all that good juice they contain, and the taste is much better than using canned crushed tomatoes. Stir well to combine.

5. Add the 15 ounce can of tomato sauce, and the 1/2 cup of dry red wine (don't go cheap here, use a good wine you would actually drink). Stir to combine.

6. Add the crushed red pepper flakes (if using), and then raise heat to medium high. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then cover the pan or dutch oven, and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally, from the bottom of the pan so nothing scorches.

7. Remove the cover during the last 20 - 30 minutes of simmering, until the sauce reaches a nice thick consistency that you like.

8. Serve over your favorite pasta, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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