CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Mama And Michael’s Meat Sauce

When it comes to meat sauces for pasta, just about everyone has their favorite.

  • Spaghetti lovers generally prefer a sauce that contains ground beef and Italian sausage. Some people even like to add ribs to the mix.
  • Ragu is also a popular choice, both the Bolognese (finely chopped ground beef, veal or pork) or Neapolitan (chunky beef or pork taken from a casserole and served later with pasta).
  • Another mainstay, amatriciana, features pancetta, meat made of pork belly that is salt-cured.
  • Carbonara is an Italian sauce containing guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks) and pancetta.

I don’t really have a favorite meat sauce recipe, but the following is one that ranks near the top of my list. It came from “Eat This, It Will Make You Feel Better,” by the late Dom DeLuise. It was the favorite of his son, Michael. The reason I like this sauce is that it is very easy to make and contains a lot of tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and carrots.

When we had it recently, I substituted ground bison for the beef and used a pint of my canned carrots (mashed). Along with a nice salad that contained lettuce and cucumbers from the garden and our first meal of steamed green and yellow beans, it was a very satisfying meal.

And one more thing: You don’t have to be Italian to make a good sauce.

Mama and Michael’s Meat Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans ready-cut tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon thyme
10 fresh mushrooms, diced
In a saucepan, heat oil and lightly brown onion, carrot and garlic. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and sugar. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes. While sauce is simmering, brown ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat, drain off fat. Add meat and thyme to tomato mixture. Cover and simmer ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes.
Yield: About 2 quarts.

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