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Christmas Pasta Sauce


We make this pasta sauce for Christmas Day--you can't fit another meat in the pot! As many times as you reheat it, it just gets that much better, so if people are coming and going throughout the day, cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time. I suggest pairing this with Caprese Salad.

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Rate this recipe 4.5/5 (8 Votes)


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, thick-cut, chopped into small bits
  • 1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pound combined ground beef, pork and veal
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup good quality dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock (8-ounces), packaged in a box container or can
  • 2 (32-ounces each) cans chunky-style crushed tomatoes
  • A handful flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon (a couple of pinches)
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for topping
  • Fresh, crusty bread, for mopping


Servings 8
Preparation time 5mins
Cooking time 25mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, garlic, bay leaf and pancetta bits and brown for one minute. Add the meats and brown and crumble them for five minutes.

Chop the carrot, celery and onion near the stove and add to the pot as you work. Cook the vegetables with the meat for five minutes and add the wine. Cook for 1 minute; add the stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Stir in the parsley and allspice or cinnamon and season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving. Reheated sauce only improves.

Toss the pasta (cook only as much pasta as you need at the time: half a pound for every three people) with a couple of ladles of sauce to coat, then top the bowl with extra sauce. Top the pasta with lots of cheese and pass bread at the table.

The sauce will cover up to two pounds of pasta.

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