This is one of my favorite Sunday night meals. The sauce simmers on the stove for several hours, making the house smell delicious and inviting, and the end result is a comforting yet elegant meal that the whole family loves.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chuncks
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
- 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for pasta water)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups beef stock (best quality, such as Swanson)
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine (available in refrigerator section at most supermarkets)*
- Optional for Serving
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Handful chopped fresh basil or parsley
- I like the Buitoni brand of fresh pasta sold in the refrigerator case at most supermarkets for this dish. It cooks very quickly and tastes great. If you can’t find fresh, feel free to substitute dried.
Adapted from onceuponachef.com
1. Place onions in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse until very finely chopped but not puréed. Transfer onions to separate bowl, then add carrots and celery to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer vegetables to bowl with onions.
2. Heat olive oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and vegetable mixture and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat if vegetables start to brown.
3. Add ground beef, pancetta, salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, 5-10 minutes.
4. Add red wine and cook until liquid is almost dissolved, 1-2 minutes.
5. Add beef stock, crushed tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir, then cover completely with lid and simmer 45 minutes more.
6. Add milk to sauce. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until milk is absorbed, about 35 minutes. If sauce looks greasy, use a soup spoon to skim some of the fat off the top. (Don’t remove all of the fat; I typically take out about 1/4 cup). Cover to keep warm off the heat while you make the pasta.
7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Before straining, ladle out 1 cup of pasta water into a bowl or measuring cup and set aside. Drain noodles in a colander, then add them to the sauce. Toss with tongs, adding reserved pasta water little by little if sauce seems dry. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and fresh herbs if desired.