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Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce from the March/April 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated is an excellent recipe. I made a double batch of this last weekend and we enjoyed it all week. What is unique about this recipe is that you finely chop mushrooms in the food processor. Can you see them in the picture? Another unique thing is that bread and milk is processed and then mixed with the ground beef. Try this recipe – we really liked it!
Simple Italian – Style Meat Sauce
4 oz white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, and broken into rough pieces
1 large slice of high quality sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 T whole milk
Table salt and ground pepper
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 c liquid reserved
1 T minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
1. Process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down side of bowl as needed; transfer to medium bowl. Add bread, milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper to now-empty food processor and process until paste forms, about eight 1-second pulses. Add beef and pulse until mixture is well combined, about six 1-second pulses.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are browned and dark bits form on pan bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant and tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato liquid and 2 tsp fresh oregano (if using dried, add full amount), scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add meat mixture and cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until beef loses its raw color, 2 to 4 minutes, making sure that meat does not brown.
3. Stir in crush and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and gently simmer until sauce has thickened and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining tsp fresh oregano; season with salt and pepper to taste.
I used 2 quarts of my canned tomatoes from the summer.
I added more herbs to the mix.
I used whole wheat bread and skim milk.
I bought mushrooms that were already sliced.