Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spaghetti Rigati al Sugo di Carne

     There are a few different sugo di carne preparations in Italy.  One sugo di carne is heavy with pork fat and is more like a stew.  This sugo di carne is the same sauce that is used to make a Piemontese lasagna.  It is the same as a New York Italian style sugo di carne too.
     The proportion of meat should be much higher than the amount of tomato in this sauce.  This is a very traditional recipe with no extra ingredients.  It is not how many ingredients you put in meat sauce, it is the cooking technique and quality of the ingredients that makes a great meat sauce!
     I apprenticed my first few years of cooking with great Italian chefs.  I learned not to cook to personal taste and to cook with respect for tradition and perfection during those years.  This sugo di carne recipe is one that I learned from a great Italian pasta chef from Sicily.  He cooked some great food!  Then later, I noticed that this sugo di carne recipe did not change from one Italian restaurant to the next because it is a traditional sauce.  There is no need to improve perfection!
     Sugo di Carne Recipe:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add a splash of olive oil.
     Add 4 cloves of  finely chopped garlic. 
     Add a handful each of very finely minced onion, carrot and celery.  (The proportion of the petite mirepoix should be nearly 30% of the amount of chopped meat.) 
     Stir and saute, till the mirepoix vegetables become soft.
    Add 10 ounces of finely minced lean veal and beef.  (Chopping meat by hand is better than ground meat for this sauce.  Use a sharp Chinese cleaver or a very sharp ten inch pro chef knife to chop the meat.  You can use ground beef and veal if you wish.) 
     Sizzle the meat till it is fully cooked, but do not allow the meat to brown.
     Add just enough Italian crushed plum tomatoes to almost cover the meat. 
     Add a finely chopped peeled and seeded fresh plum tomato.  (Keep the proportion of meat much higher than the amount of tomatoes.  The meat is not supposed to be swimming in sauce.)
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of basil.
     Add 3 pinches of oregano.
     Add a pinch of dried crushed red pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of whole fennel seed.
     Add a splash of dry red wine. 
     Add a splash of light veal stock. 
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Stir and simmer for 30 minutes at a low temperature.  (Don't simmer this sauce all day!  Meat sauces that are cooked way too long start to smell like dog food!) 
     After 30 minutes of simmering, the sauce should be noticeably thick and full of meat. 
     Stir in 3 pinches of finely chopped parsley.
     Recipe:  Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add just enough of the meat sauce to the pan to coat a portion of pasta.
     Add a portion of hot spaghetti rigati pasta that is cooked al dente. 
     Toss the sauce and pasta together. 
     Set the pasta on a plate with a chef's fork. 
     Spoon any extra sauce over the pasta.
     Sprinkle some finely chopped parsley on the pasta. 
     Sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese on the pasta. 
     Garnish with a parsley sprig.
     Mama Mia!  This recipe is an absolutely fantastic Italian pasta!  The sauce is rich with beef and veal with just enough tomato to flavor the pasta.  Don't add too much fennel seed or that will be the only flavor you will taste.  Hand chopped meat does have a better flavor in a sauce than "bruised" and mashed ground meat.  This traditional meat sauce sticks to pasta well and has a great flavor.  This is the best meat sauce to make lasagna with too.  Ciao Baby! ... Shawna

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