TOMATO AND MEAT SAUCE FOR PASTA
by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Sausage zings the flavor of this rich tomato sauce, a standby for family suppers. The recipe can be doubled or tripled and the extra sauce frozen. One batch is enough to sauce one pound of pasta.
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
• 3/4 pound lean ground beef
• 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
• 1/4 pound hot Italian sausage OR an additional 1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, or more to taste
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (about 5 large fresh tomatoes)
• 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cover the pan and cook gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the carrot and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you cook, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it has browned.
2. If the sausage has casings, remove them. Cut the sweet sausage into 1-inch chunks and add them to the pan. Crumble the hot sausage and add it, too. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the oregano over the meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the bay leaf and tomatoes. Cover the pan and let the mixture simmer over medium heat until the tomatoes are tender, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their ripeness.
4. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the tomato paste and continue cooking over medium-high heat to evaporate the liquid. If the tomatoes are exceptionally juicy or if you want to intensify the tomato flavor, add the additional tablespoon tomato paste. When the sauce has thickened, reduce the heat to medium-low.
5. Taste and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar if desired. Season with pepper and additional salt to taste. Serve hot.