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Pasta - Meat Sauce (A Bit Different)

Updated on February 10, 2016

What to put on pasta

The recipe here is a little unusual, in that the meat is traditionally cooked in with the tomato sauce. Here they are cooked separately. The recipe here assumes that we have already made the tomato sauce we are going to pair with the meat and that in the final stages here we will heat it up to go with the meat.

Do not fear, however, that we will fail to show how the tomato sauce is made. Ours is basic, but perhaps a little different, just like the "Pasta - Meat Sauce" end result.

The separation demonstrated here has several advantages. First, it's distinctive (particularly when paired with tubular pasta, as it is in this treatment). Second, the final dish is an artistic composition. It makes, as it were, a splash when set down before a lucky customer. Third, a big batch of tomato sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for a much longer time if there is no meat in it. In the real world, as opposed to the world of the first-class restaurant, this is an important consideration.

The taste, too, is great. And that is what matters.

Meat sauce for pasta.

Grilled tomato sauce

Grill some tomatoes, the more the better.

While they are grilling, smash a lot of peeled garlic cloves and add them to a pan coat heavily with EVOO. Saute these until they show a little color and produce a mouth-watering sensation in anyone whose proboscis is in the vicinity, including your own. Transport the tomatoes from the grill to the pan when they are done. Mash them into the oil and the garlic. Add basil, rosemary and perhaps some oregano. Coarse ground pepper, coarse ground salt, a few red pepper flakes, depending on whether you like heat.

Add a small can of crushed tomatoes. Cook for a while.

Throw in some capers.

Voila!

EVOO, rosemary, smashed garlic cloves, scallions

Now for the meat, in another pan.

Fresh rosemary would be good, from our garden if we have one. If not, dried rosemary is also great, though less colorful.

EVOO, smashed garlic cloves, chopped scallions -- add these to the skillet and saute until a little color shows.

And until the aroma becomes unbeatable, begging for some addition to the pan which it can then flavor. That is coming up next.

For EVOO, click here.

The main

Regular old 80/20 ground beef is the main thing and the best thing to add here. It has more flavor than leaner versions.

It is inexpensive, and we will come to believe that it was made to be paired with a full-rich tomato sauce in pasta heaven.

More herbs

Add some basil, fresh or dried.

Add some oregano, fresh or dried.

Add some hot sauce or a dried red chili pepper (or two, not forgetting that we may have added these to the tomato sauce, too).

The meat is ready, let's look at the pasta

It only takes a few minutes of cooking to look like this and to be ready for the final pairing with tomato sauce.

This would be a good time to add coarse ground pepper and sea salt.

Tubes and others

We can of course use noodle pasta for this recipe, including good old spaghetti noodles.

But in keeping with our theme of being distinctive, we are going to use an assortment of the short, tubular pastas and their relatives. There are literally hundreds of relatives in this family. Seen here are a mere five: Orecchiette ('little ears") at the top, rigatoncini at 3 o'clock, fusilli at 6, penne rigate at 9, and farfalle in the middle. The extended family has many odd ducks: Torchio (torch shaped), rotelle, quadrefiore, mandala (new as of 1967), and gramigna to name just a few.

Combining the three

Spoon, fork, or tong over some of the cooked pasta (takes about ten minutes, starting with water that is fully boiling) onto a plate or into a bowl.

Add some of the meat.

Ladle some of the tomato sauce around it.

Look good?

Alternatively

Ladle out some of the tomato sauce into a pan.

Add the meat.

Cook together briefly. Ladle this sauce over the pasta and add parmesan, as above.

This is more traditional, of course. And just as delicious.

With Parmesan, of course. -- Dig in!

Parting facts

I was surprised to find that in Bologna, where of course "spag bol" originated, the sauce is traditionally made to dress a type of egg pasta, tagliatelle, which in shape is similar to fettucine. Less surprising is that its other main use is in making lasagne.

Indeed the original ragu (the term for any meat-based sauce) still made in Bologna is quite different from what has become known around the world as Spaghetti Bolognese. The original often uses chopped instead of ground meat, and the meat could be veal instead of beef. The meat can include some fatty pork. Carrots and celery can be included. Thyme can be used as well as basil. Slowness of cooking is essential. Tomato concentrate, in modest amounts, is used in place of canned or fresh tomatoes. Indeed, even tomato concentrate does not appear in the original recipe.

Actual recipes for bolognese sauce don't appear until around 1891, though no doubt the sauce was made for many years before that -- maybe it was such a part of the culture that no one felt the need to write anything down. Apparently milk can be an ingredient. What is happening here?


Part of a series

Pictures, pictures, pictures

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Real meal

Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.

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