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Pasta and Easy Italian Meat Sauce

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Here is a meaty tomato sauce that doesn't need to cook for a long time to be delicious. The sauce is based on the famed Ragu alla Bolognese (sauce in the style of Bologna). The addition of milk might seem unusual, but it's traditional in northern Italy -- where butter and cream, as well as milk, are essential to the cuisine.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

Source: Everyday Food, January/February 2003

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium. Stir in carrot, onion, and garlic. Add ground beef, and cook until it turns from pink to brown, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add tomatoes and their liquid, crushing them with the back of a large spoon. Stir in milk, bay leaf, thyme, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook fettuccine until al dente according to package instructions, about 12 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain fettuccine, and return to the warm pot. Add meat sauce, and toss. Add pasta water as needed if the sauce seems dry. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Cook's Notes

Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, and add a little to the sauce if it seems too thick. The water is ideal for adjusting the consistency of the sauce, and the starch in the water helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.

Reviews Add a comment

  • sheehansr
    21 JAN, 2015
    A greasy mess, sadly. I even halved the butter called for. It was so unappetizing!
    Reply
  • MS12013476
    20 SEP, 2014
    I have made this twice and everyone LOVES it. My family says this is the best spaghetti sauce I have ever made. The recipe is super easy & quick. I make this now when my sons show up with a whole crew of friends who are hungry. I will try it with some italian sausage in it next time just to see. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • cookeverydayfood
    2 AUG, 2012
    I really enjoyed the flavors of this sauce. For something that simmers 20 minutes I felt it was a great option for a quick dinner after work. The leftovers the next day were awesome! www.cookeverydayfood.com
    Reply
  • gitinoam
    20 JUN, 2010
    I just made this and it came out very nice!
    Reply
  • abhlove
    14 JUN, 2010
    Everyone really liked this dish. I also took the suggestions and added a small can of tomato paste... I did have to add a little of the pasta water. But - I will make it the same way next time. I added some basil. Very yummy - it is on the keep list.
    Reply
  • bakingbella
    9 JUN, 2010
    This turned out really well! I followed some of the suggestions of others - a little more nutmeg, a tin of tomato paste - and the results were great. Would definitely make this again.
    Reply
  • varneyj44
    24 MAR, 2010
    This was so good, I had to come back and get the recipe to make it again! It's very simple. I left out the nutmeg (not a fan), and this go-round I'll be adding a bit more tomatoes and bought low-fat ground beef to use. It was very fatty the first time. Perhaps ground turkey would be good as well.
    Reply
  • gracieb83
    8 NOV, 2008
    This was SO good. I did a lot more seasonng cause that's what I do. I added more nutmeg, 2 sage leaves, oregano, basil, tarragon, crushed red pepper. I would like it to be a little more tomatoey - maybe with some tomato paste, But really so good.
    Reply
  • Tryingsomethingnew
    12 OCT, 2008
    This turned out great! We used farfelle pasta instead of fettuccine. My boyfriend loved it!
    Reply
  • dcoulthart
    28 AUG, 2008
    Love this pasta, it has become a staple in our home. Quick and easy.
    Reply