I make a lot of meat sauce. And when I say a lot, I don’t just mean that I make it often. (Although that’s true too. I probably make it three times a month.) No, I mean I make it in vast and even comical quantities. If you were friends with the world’s most celebrated hamburger butcher, you would make a lot of meat sauce too.
My basic recipe for meat sauce is as follows. Take eight pounds of hamburger, an onion, two cans of tomato sauce, a beer, and cook it together. At least, that’s the basic framework of the recipe. In practice, I cut up a big yellow onion, half a dozen cloves of garlic, and saute them in olive oil at the bottom of the biggest pot I can find. I am always on the lookout for former soup kitchens and army mess halls, because you can’t get a big enough pot for my meat sauce.
I add the meat, and work it around until it loses that raw color, and pour a large can of beer over it, and work it further as the beer bubbles away. Finally I add two or three cans of crushed tomatoes, and whatever I can think of that’s in the house for flavoring. The last batch had four bay leaves, some ancho chile powder, some old oregano, and a goodly amount of white balsamic, to counteract all that bitter beer and bay leaf. If it was still too bitter, I add a small jar of the worst marinara sauce I can find, knowing that the vile, sugary-sweet sauce will complement all the austerity.
Did I forget to mention that I also added pepperoni and bacon to the onions when it was sauteeing? I often forget to mention that to the people I give it to. If they notice the little bits of sausage, pepperoni, sopressata, or bacon, no problem. They can thank me later. Usually though, they can’t figure out why it’s so great. “It’s that amazing LaFrieda beef,” I tell them, “that and the fact that I don’t drain it.”
Yes, that’s right. I don’t drain any of the fat produced by seven pounds of beef. Surely there must be something wrong with me. And yet, I never get any complaints. I refigerate the sauce, and it forms a flourescent orange surface crust that I can break up and throw away as needed. Since I invariably add either olive or butter, or both, to the spaghetti at the end, I don’t have to worry about the sauce beeing to light and lean. And neither will you, when you try it out. I hope you do a good job of it – you’ll be eating it for weeks to come.