CLASSIC RED SAUCE

recipe + photography by BILLY DOUKAS

This delicious homemade tomato sauce, with ground beef, is a perfect accompaniment to Greek meatballs (keftedes) or served mixed with your favorite pasta.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

Prep: 30 minutes
Cooking: 60 minutes, or longer simmer time

2 large sweet or yellow onions, chopped fine
8 strips bacon, chopped fine
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (with a harvest date)
½ cup salted butter
2 pounds ground beef, 80–85% lean
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bay leaves, broken in half
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed dry red pepper
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup red wine
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste, double concentrated, tube
2 cups water, or beef broth
1 large carrot, peeled and grated fine

Chop onions while pan-frying bacon. Drain most of the leftover fat from bacon, reserving a couple of ounces for browning the ground beef. Remove and chop the cooked bacon.

In large Dutch oven, or a 10- to 12-quart stockpot, heat oil and butter on medium heat. Add chopped onion and chopped bacon; sauté for 10 minutes.

Add ground beef to bacon fat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon to allow even browning. After 5 minutes, transfer ground beef (along with the fat) into the Dutch oven (or stockpot) of onion/bacon mix and stir. Turn down to a low heat and add garlic, bay leaves, parsley, salt, peppers and sugar.

After 10 minutes, add red wine, both cans of tomatoes, tomato paste and water (or beef broth); turn up to medium-high. When sauce boils, add the carrot, stir, break up whole peeled tomatoes with a spoon, or potato masher, cover, and turn down to a very low heat. Stir occasionally while sauce simmers for another hour.

For a premium sauce flavor and texture, I place the Dutch oven, covered, in the oven overnight at 200°F.

Remove from oven, place on stove top on a simmer heat and remove the bay leaves. If you have prepared cooked meatballs, this is good time to combine them and stir very gently. After 30 minutes, if you can wait, shut off heat and serve.

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