Spaghetti Sauce

So on the way home last night in that torrential rain storm, I asked Rand what he wanted for dinner and he casually responded, how about some spaghetti sauce?  Not one to disappoint him, I said yes and then went on to figuring out how to make the spaghetti sauce which typically requires about 4 hours, in about 2.  Well it was easy.  Remember back when I told you all about spaghetti sauce and how it didn’t require the better part of the day.  Well that is still true, especially in this case, where I was using ground beef and sausage, instead of the chuck roast beef that I would roast in the tomato sauce for hours until it fell apart.  So here we go:

1 pound ground beef

1 pound Italian sausage, hot or sweet (out of its casing)

1 small onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup red wine (pinot, cab)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 large cans tomato puree

1 large can water

That’s it!

In a little olive oil, in a large dutch oven, sautee the onion and garlic until transluscent, over medium heat.  Add the beef and the sausage and cook until no longer pink.  Add the tomato paste and fry the tomato paste for a few minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar and cook until almost dry but still a little moist.  Add the wine, cook for a few minutes to cook out the alchohol.  Then add the tomatoes and the water, and salt and pepper it to your liking.  Cook for about 1.5 hours, covered and over low hear and it’s ready.  This meat sauce was so delicious, and unattended, it can cook itself (just make sure you are on LOW).  Enjoy!


PS.  On pizza, this sauce is amazing!p1010088

Pork Loin et al

Pork loin with pan gravy and roasted asparagus

Pork loin with pan gravy and roasted asparagus


Saturday morning and I’ve already made Pork Loin with a simple pan sauce (recipe to follow), and I am planning on making my Chicken dish which I am going to enter into the National Chicken Cooking contest (that’s for tomorrow).  Monday I am doing the peach cheesecake again and making stuffed heirloom tomatoes which I decided to stuff with basmati rice instead of quinoa.  The quinoa just did not work for me.  Perhaps another time.  By Monday I will have posted another three recipes, so check back often!

Pork Loin with Pan Gravy and Roasted Asparagus

1 (2 and 1/2 pounds) pork loin

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 bunch asparagus


1 shallot, chopped finely

1/2 cup red wine (cabernet, whatever you have handy)

1/2 cup chicken broth

Splash Worcestershire sauce

1/2 stick cold unsalted butter

Fresh ground pepper and salt

Working with a meat thermometer is the way to cook pork.  Take the pork out of the fridge and rub down with olive oil, and sprinkle well with salt and pepper. 

Preheat the oven to 400F and place the meat in a large dutch oven as you will be using the dutch oven to prepare the pan gravy.  Roast until a meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees.  While the pork is roasting, prepare the asparagus by breaking them at their natural snapping point and slicing into three piece each.  Toss with olive oil and salt and roast in the same oven for about 12 minutes until beginning to color.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temp, covered. 

When pork has reached 140F, remove from oven and take out of the Dutch oven.  Cover with foil while you prepare the sauce.  The meat needs 10 minutes of resting time and this sauce will be done by then. 

Place the Dutch oven over a medium flame.  Add the shallot to the pan and stir until shallot begins to give off its fragrance.  Add the wine and the chicken broth and the Worcestershire sauce, and stir well, scraping off any brown bits. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce a bit and then stir in 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, stirring constantly to emusify the sauce.  Check for seasoning, adjust and serve. 

Cut pork loin into 4 servings, split asaparagus amongst the plates and split the sauce 4 ways!  This is a 45 minute meal…if that. Enjoy!

Serves 4.






Lamb stew:

2 pounds lamb shoulder, cubed into 1 ½ inch cubes

½ cup onion, chopped finely

½ cup celery, chopped finely

¼ cup carrot, chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper

½ teaspoon ground Allspice

1 tablespoon Tomato paste

Scant ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar

1 cup full bodied red wine (such as Cabernet or Pinot)

1 28 ounce can tomato puree

1 cup water

1 bay leaf

1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese

1 pound mini penne (the finished dish is so much easier to eat this way)

¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 Stick unsalted butter

½ cup flour

4 cups milk (2 percent or even one percent—not skim)


1 cup parmesan

½ cup parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven coat the lamb with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven (uncovered) until the lamb cubes are browned. This may required a few stirrings throughout the roasting process. This may take 40-60 minutes. When the lamb is browned take the pan out of the oven and remove the lamb to a dish and allow the pan to cool. Blot up the grease in the pan with paper towels and discard. (I do this in the oven because browning lamb on the stove top is a major mess).

Place the pan over med heat and add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil and add all of the vegetables and garlic. Season with salt and pepper again. Sweat over the medium heat, covered for about 2-3 minutes and then remove the cover and continue to cook until limp and slightly colored (about 5 minutes).


Add the Allspice and cook for a minute or two so that the Allspice releases its flavor and scent. Add the tomato paste and fry for a minute or so.


Remove from heat and add the wine and the balsamic. Return to heat. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes to cook out the alcohol.

Add the tomatoes, the lamb cubes and about 1 cup of water (remember you’re making a stew so give or take and use your instinct—adjust as you go along), and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours. The lamb should be falling apart after the stewing and there should be a total of about 4-5 cups of sauce and lamb. Adjust the seasoning along the way but watch your salt because we are adding cheese later.

Let cool. Cover, and refrigerate. Remove from fridge after an overnight chill (or 2-3 hours) and remove the fat that has solidified on top. Remove bay leaf.

Take each piece of meat and shred with two forks. Return to pot. If you feel that the stew is a little dense you can add some water at this point. Reheat the stew over medium heat.

Boil 1 pound of penne (small penne) noodles in salted water. Boil until al dente because they will cook in the oven as well. Drain. Mix in with the sauce. Add one cup grated Gruyere cheese and stir. Add parsley and stir well. Check for seasoning again and adjust with salt and pepper.

Butter a 9 by 13 dish and add the pasta mixture and spread out.

Melt 1 stick of sweet butter and ½ cup of flour together. Add 4 cups of milk, slowly, salt and pepper and a nice grinding of nutmeg. Watch the salt again because we are adding parmesan to this later. Stir with a whisk and let it bubble for a few minutes to cook the flour out. Turn off heat. Add 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Taste and check for seasoning. Adjust.

Pour over the noodles, spread out and then sprinkle ½ cup of parmesan over the top.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes until bubbly and brown. Remove from oven. Cool and serve in squares at room temp or even slightly warm.


Tip: If you cannot find lamb shoulder, and you use cubes from the leg, the stewing time will go up about an hour because it will take longer for the muscular lamb leg to fall apart.

Tip: Using the aromatics of onion, garlic, celery and carrot round out this stew and add multiple layers of flavor. Along with the tomato paste and bay leaf, the resulting stew has no resemblance to a typical pasticcio.

Tip: Overnight chill in the refrigerator is essential but 2-3 hours should do it. The degreasing which is required cleans up the flavor of the lamb.

Tip: If you have a parmesan cheese rind, a small piece maybe 2 inches by 2 inches, you may add it to the stew while it is cooking. This adds wonderful flavor.





Spaghetti sauce

The line from Goodfellas goes like this.  “Did you put in the pork?”   And the response?  “Well, that’s the flava….”  Pork is an essential ingredient in my Sunday sauce.  I say Sunday sauce (or gravy for those of you from Hoboken), because this type of a rich Bolognese type sauce was typically prepared on a Sunday, with the entire clan clustered around the table reaching for the meat, which was always served on the side. 


With various meats forming the base of it, this rich American version of an Italian classic has its roots in Southern Italy. It has as many variations as there are Italian nonnas. I’ve heard of everything from beef oxtails to pork ribs to pepperoni to even chicken wings used to create this oh so comforting food.


I used to fantasize about making this sauce and mistakenly thought that the longer the simmering process, the richer the sauce.  To an extent that is true, because the sauce continues to concentrate as it cooks.  But one need not invest the better part of a Sunday to create what I think is a rich, complex and delicious sauce. I’ve added sausage and meatballs as you can see, but the sauce on its own is simple and   delicious.  Enjoy.





Sunday Spaghetti Sauce


Olive oil

1.5 pounds of pork spare ribs, cut into two to three rib portions

1 medium onion chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup red wine

3 large cans of tomatoes packed in tomato puree, run through a food mill (I prefer Cento brand–San Marzano tomatoes)

1 cup of water


Preheat oven to 450F.  In a large Dutch oven, place three tablespoons of olive oil and the ribs, turning to coat.  Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes until brown.  Take out of the oven and remove the ribs to a separate plate.  Set aside.  After allowing the pan to cool, blot up the liquid in the bottom of the pan with paper towels. 


Place the pan on the stove and add two or three tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium heat, sauté the onions until soft and translucent, add the garlic and turn the heat down to low.  Continue stirring and add the tomato paste, frying the tomato paste for a minute or so.  Add the red wine and simmer for two to three minutes to burn off the alcohol. 


Add the tomato puree and the water, season with salt and pepper and return the ribs to the pot.  Simmer over low heat until the ribs are falling off the bone, about two hours.  Except for the occasional stir, the pot, over LOW heat, can remain unattended. 


Remove the pork ribs from the pot and allow to cool.  Shred the pork meat and measure out 1 ½ cups.  Return the pork meat to the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Serve over pasta of your choice with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.