Winter is a tough time for blogging, because the days are shorter, and food doesn’t look so great in photographs without sunlight. So I can either take pictures using a flash and hope that some really delicious recipes get the attention they deserve (like these ribs), or I can hold off and plan to remake a recipe on a sunnier day, with the risk that you might never learn about it (like a fantastic winter salad I haven’t gotten back to). This magnificent meat sauce recipe is a hybrid case. I originally posted it 2 years ago, amid short winter days, but it’s so delicious that it deserves to look as good as it tastes. Here it is again, with a few tweaks and a much prettier presentation.
I love this recipe because it makes a big batch of sauce that can be used in a bunch of different ways. And leftovers keep perfectly in the freezer for a lazy day. To make it, heat a very large pot over medium-high heat. Into the hot pot, dump 3 pounds of ground beef. Use a spoon to break up the meat and stir it around, until it has mostly all browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl, dump out all of the liquid that the meat released, and return the pot to the stove.
While the meat cooks, small dice 1 onion and 1 seeded green pepper, and mince 3 garlic cloves. Drizzle some olive oil into the empty pot, and then add in the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables until they soften and turn translucent. Then, pour in 1/2 cup of white wine. Use your spoon to scrape up any bits of food that are stuck to the pot, and then let the wine cook off.
To the pot, add a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a large can or jar of marinara sauce (I think mine was 25 ounces), and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. And now for the seasonings…sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir everything together.
Add the browned meat into the pot of tomato sauce, and give it a good stir. Bring the sauce to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and let it cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
After the hour, add 3 tablespoons of minced fresh basil to the sauce, along with 1 parmesan cheese rind. Let the sauce simmer for 30 more minutes. Cook it with the lid on for a saucier sauce, off for a thicker sauce, or partially on for somewhere in between.
While the sauce finishes cooking, boil some pasta according to its package’s instructions. Once the pasta is drained, return it to its pot, and stir in some of the meat sauce until it completely coats the pasta. Portion the pasta out into bowls, and top it with some fresh basil and fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy the comfort, beauty, and versatility of this meal (use on sandwiches or pizza too!).
This recipe is adapted from the Pioneer Woman.
- Ground beef- 3 pounds
- Onion- 1
- Green pepper- 1
- Garlic- 3 cloves
- White wine- 1/2 cup
- Crushed tomatoes- 28 ounces
- Marinara sauce- 25 ounces
- Tomato paste- 2 tablespoons
- Dried thyme- 1/2 teaspoon
- Dried basil- 1/2 teaspoon
- Red pepper flakes- 1/2 teaspoon
- Bay leaf- 2
- Sugar- 1 tablespoon
- Kosher salt- 1 teaspoon
- Fresh basil- 3 tablespoons+
- Parmesan cheese rind- 1 + cheese for topping