Meat sauce is a staple in our kitchen. It makes the perfect Sunday meal and adheres to pasta perfectly. The recipe below is pretty basic. You can add different herbs and seasoning to your taste, but all you really need is garlic, olive oil and salt and you can make a sauce that will dazzle your guests. My mom and dad always swore by big meaty country ribs to make this sauce and it has never let me down. You can also add meatballs and sausage to enhance the meal, but they are not necessary to make this sauce. Although I add a variation below for thicker sauce, it’s not one I use often. I never want the pasta to compete with the sauce which I think happens with really thick sauce. I want the sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta getting into every nook and cranny, not just cover it like a tomato blob. I’m not sure if this is the influence of southern Italian lineage, but it’s my strong preference. And speaking of strong preferences…when it is time to serve, for best results, do not let the pasta sit in the colander or serve the pasta and sauce separately. Instead, ladle this delicious sauce right onto your pasta as soon as you’ve strained it and serve immediately. Pasta waits for no one! My mom says so…
- 1/4 of a large yellow/sweet onion, chopped
- 1 can (28 oz) peeled san marzano tomatoes Puree in food processor with their juices
- About 1 lb of country ribs
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed & peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- Water as needed
- Basil, torn by hand
Note: For thicker sauce you can use 1 part peeled tomatoes and 1 part pureed tomatoes or just pureed. I use Cento, but all of the major brands carry both peeled and pureed tomatoes. Of course if you want even thicker sauce, my mom swears by tomato paste. It comes in easy to store tubes now so you don’t have to commit to using an entire can or throwing most of it away. You can just use what you need.
- Coat a large deep sided pan with olive oil.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat and then saute garlic and bay leaf until the garlic is golden in color, then discard the garlic.
- Add the country ribs and raise the heat slightly and brown them on each side (about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Reduce heat slightly and add onion and saute for about 1 minute until they begin to soften.
- Add about a 3/4 cup of red wine. Let the wine cook down about 2-3 minutes
- Add crushed red pepper to taste, if desired.
- Add the chopped tomato and water and stir to incorporate all ingredients.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the sauce comes to a low boil, lower the heat to simmer and loosely cover. If you are making meatballs this is the point where I would add then (already mostly cooked) to the sauce. That’s another recipe for another time.
- Let the sauce cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- For thicker sauce, allow for longer cook time paying close attention not to burn or overly reduce the liquid.
- Remove bay leaf before serving. Add fresh basil if you have it.
- Serve over pasta and eat hot.