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Penne with Meat Sauce

Prep Time:

20 Minutes

Cook Time:

1 Hour


8 Servings


About the Recipe

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 2 Large cans of tomato sauce

1 can tomato paste

one carrot

one stalk of celery

5-6 fresh basil leaves

sprinkle of cinnamon

tiny dash of nutmeg

Bottle of imported Italian red wine

1 medium-sized onion finely chopped

4-5 cloves smashed garlic (remove before serving)

¼ lb each: ground pork, ground veal, ground beef


Crush garlic (4-5 cloves) with the side of a knife, slice into large chunks, as you want it easy to remove, slice one medium sized onion or 1/2 of a large onion.  Mix all the beef together in one large bowl, salt and pepper.  Chop carrots and celery into 3" strips about 1/2" thick.  Wash Basil.  Open all the cans of paste and sauce now. Heat (medium heat) a large pot with olive oil, drop in garlic until slightly brown, then add chopped onion, carrots, and celery mixture.  Fry until translucent, clear... then put meat in the pan. 

Mix and chop and stir frequently to break into fine pieces, you don't want it too chunky.  re-season with salt and pepper, begin removing chunks of garlic.  If you want to sprinkle a tiny nutmeg, tiny cinnamon during this step, it just adds some taste to the beef.  remove all the garlic.  Strain all the water from the pan from the beef.  Put back into the pan, add wine, bring to a slight boil (to burn off some of the alcohol, alcohol has a small bubble when you cook a sauce so you know the difference between the boiling alcohol and water in the wine.)  Then add 1 can of tomato paste.  Typically it's 1 small can of pasta to 1 large can of sauce. depends on how much you buy, this stuff I can walk through with you over the phone.  Add about 3 cans of water to the one can of paste. 

Stir and smooth out to create the base of the sauce - really wine and watery paste right now.  Bring to a boil, cook for 4-5 minutes.  Then pour in the sauce.  Add the celery and carrot (I try to tie it with a cooking string, never seems to work when it gets soggy, but it has to be removed before serving...)  Just add them to the sticks.  Salt and pepper lightly.  Sprinkle a little cinnamon, tiny bit of nutmeg... to add a homey taste.  Stir.  Once warm and bubbling, re-season (s+p) and just put the sprigs of basil on the top.  You want them to just get soggy, and release all the oil into the sauce.  Simmer on low for 45-120 mins.  Add water once and a while to keep from getting too thick.  Add Parmesean cheese to taste.  A few things: mixing sea salt with standard table salt is a nice compromise as the iodine salt sustains a lasting flavor.  

Some nice alternatives to expand the repertoire of this sauce:  Italian sausage substitutes fine by itself instead of the ground meats, just cut the sausage out of the casings.  During Lent and on certain holy days of obligation, my grandmother would substitute the meat with tuna which is surprisingly very smooth and delicate in texture as part of this sauce recipe. 

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