Tomato Meat Sauce (Ragu)

2012-07-19
  • Yield : About 3 quarts
  • Servings : 12
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Cook Time : 2:15 h
  • Ready In : 2:30 h

Tomato sauce is a relatively recent addition to the Italian culinary scene. For hundreds of years after the tomato was introduced to Europeans it was considered poisonous. Today, some individuals classify the tomato as a super food. How times have changed.

Although this recipe is for tomato meat sauce the meat can be omitted if desired. Meat sauce, also known as ragu, is served in central Italy more often than in Southern Italy. When an Italian refers to pasta with rage, they do not mean pasta with a popular brand of bottled tomato sauce sold in the United States. They mean a thin tomato meat sauce without vegetables (Bolognese has vegetables and milk)

You can make tomato meat sauce in about an hour, but slow simmering not only improves the flavor it thickens the sauce. I generally simmer this sauce about 2 hours. With a good heavy bottomed pot that evenly distributes the heat, it  only requires occasional stirring on low heat; about every 30 minutes. Give the sauce a quick stir every 30 minutes or so to check the thickness.

This tomato meat sauce recipe can be halved or doubled. Once cooled, you can divide the sauce into 1, 2 or more serving containers (about 1 cup per serving) and frozen it for later use. Thaw frozen sauce in the refrigerator (allow 1 to 2 days), on the stove over low heat heat or in your microwave oven per the manufacturers recommended settings.

Cook’s Tip

Tomato meat sauce can be used on pasta, in lasagna and on pizza.

Variations

Omit beef and pork for a vegetarian tomato sauce.

Substitute cooked shredded chicken during the last 30 minutes instead of beef and pork.

Omit beef an pork and add your favorite seafood or combination of seafood. Tuna is a popular seafood added to tomato sauce. Other types include mussels, octopus and squid.

Substitutions

Substitute 2 28-oz. cans of crushed or pureed tomato for the tomato sauce.

Add or substitute 1 or 2 14-oz cans of petite diced tomatoes for a chunky sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (250 g) medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. (450 g) lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. (450 g) lean hot or sweet Italian sausage
  • 4 14.5-oz (440 ml) cans no salt added tomato sauce or low sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup (60-120 ml) dry red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1or 2 fresh or dry bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 ml) ground anise
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) Kosher salt

Method of Preparation

Step 1

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté onion about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 to 60 seconds. Do not burn the garlic or it will taste bitter.

Step 2

Add ground beef and sausage. Sauté, stirring and breaking up the meat until browned. A little pink is acceptable. The meat will fully cook while simmering the sauce.

Step 3

Add remaining indigents, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 1 to 2 hours stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning to taste

Step 4

Remove from heat and serve or transfer to a wire rack to cool and then refrigerate.

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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

    240
  • Calories from Fat

    110
  • Total Fat

    13g
  • Saturated Fat

    4g
  • Trans Fat

    0g
  • Cholesterol

    60mg
  • Sodium

    300mg
  • Carbohydrates

    11g
  • Dietary Fiber

    2g
  • Sugar

    9g
  • Protein

    16g
  • Serving Size:

    1 cup (240 ml)