Thursday, January 26, 2006

Our Meat Sauce

There is really no other name for it - tomato-based (pasta) sauce with sausage, bacon, onions, garlic, squash, mushrooms, and fennel and other spices... Ragu, Red Sauce, Meat Sauce, whatever! You get it together and you cook it a while and you take it and pour it over the object of your desire - making pasta, bread, even lawn clippings taste fantastic! (Don't eat grass.) Let's do this - photoblog style!

* Hot Italian Sausage (we got Perri) stripped of it's casing
* Bacon cut into one-inch pieces, we had some extra lying around that woulda gone bad before the weekend. Let's use it for the fat (and smokey flavor) in this sauce

onion in little 3/4 inch pieces, diced garlic, yellow summer squash in 1/4 round cubes, sliced mushrooms

two cans diced tomoatoes, two small cans tomato sauce

freshly ground fennel, salt, pepper, oregano, basil

whole wheat Penne and Rigatoni to fill out the amount we need.


Red wine (cabernet sauvignon) to deglaze (about 1/3 cup)


Bacon goes in first to start rendering the fat, while this is going on take the sausage out of it's casing - just make a long, shallow slice lengthwise and turn that sucker out.

Also, get that water going for your pasta!

Add the sausage to the bacon/bacon fat and brown. As it cooks be sure to break it up along the way. As you can see here, we use a splatter screen to - what else? - try and minimize splatter all over the cooktop.

Browned and removed, drain most of the fat, leaving the burny bits from the sausage and bacon at the bottom. Refresh with a little olive oil if you wish and get the onions going. After a minute or so, add the garlic. After a few more minutes the yellow squash is ready to go in. Not long after that, the sliced mushrooms go in.

This is a good time to deglaze, although we could have (should have?) done it sooner, too. Add red wine and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate the burny stuff at the bottom.

Allow the red wine to get nice and bubblin' to burn off the alcohol and really pull the flavors out of the Cabernet (use whatever you like!)

Cook and gently stir all this for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. With that veggie mixture in place, let's season:

We like adding freshly ground fennel seeds that go great with the sausage. We got this great grinder for our wedding from our friends Trish and Brooks - just throw the seeds in and twist. Voila! Ground fennel. We added fresh ground black pepper, coarse sea salt, and dried oregano and basil. (The tomoatoes we're about to add aren't seasoned at all.)

Spice Grinder w/Fennel:

Mix that together and we're ready to...

Add the tomatoes - throw them all in. Because we're not adding alot of liquid, the sauce will provide that liquidy texture and allow some time to cook all the flavors together. Once the tomatoes are up to temperature, go ahead and add the meat back in and combine. Set to low, cover with splatter screen, take a deep breath, and simmer.

At this point, a glass of that same cabernet is in order. After as long as you can take - 10-20 minutes, you're ready to go.

Drop your pasta in when you are about 10 minutes away from being ready. We use whole wheat penne and rigatoni tonight, as we had the ends of those two boxes. Boiling, salted water - 10 minutes til al dente!

The final product after some grated parmesan. That is a BIG plate... plenty of leftovers from this dish. We only boil enough pasta for one night, for leftovers we'll boil new pasta and reheat this sauce in the microwave and combine.

* Pasta Sauce Dinner - 9 out of 10. - Gold star - Super Duper - Grade A - Splendid!
The smokey flavor from the bacon and the fennel-y sausage and deglazed veggies are fantastic. We forgot the green pepper - maybe that woulda gave it that last point!

DELICIOUS! See you next time!

The Boston Chef

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