- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 small carrot, peeled and minced
- 1/2 celery stalk, minced
- 3/4 lb ground beef, preferably chunk
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes packed in juice, chopped fine, with juice reserved
Italy’s most famous meat sauce hails from Bologna. While many Italian recipes use a variety of ground meats, pancetta, prosciutto, and/or mushrooms, I prefer the simple, intense flavors of beef and tomatoes, fortified with wine, milk, and aromatic vegetables. Ground beef is first sauteed with onions, carrots, and celery until no longer pink. Wine is added to give ther sauce depth. Once the wine cooks off, the beef is simmered in a little milk, which adds sweetness and keeps the meat soft during the final long simmering in tomatoes. Serve with fresh pasta, especially fettuccine or cheese ravioli. Don’t forget the grated Parmesan cheese! Enjoy this classic Italian sauce recipe.
1 – Heat the butter and olive oil in a casserole or large, deep saute pan with thick, heavy bottom. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes.
2 – Add the beef and crumble with a fork to break apart. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until meat just loses raw color, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until alcohol cooks off, about 4 minutes. Add the milk and nutmeg. Simmer until milk thickens a bit, about 4 minutes.
3 – Add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of their juice. When the sauce starts to boil, reduce heat so that it cooks at barest simmer, with just an occasional bubble or two. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours, turning down heat if sauce starts to simmer or scorch. If sauce dries out before it is done, add some reserved tomato juice. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Sauce can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before using.