One of my greatest childhood memories is watching my mother or father prepare tomato sauce on Sundays, which would go on to slowly simmer all day long, filling the house scents of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. It is an intoxicating smell which deeply comforted me well before actually eating it.
This recipes draws inspiration from my Italian ancestry but with a few subtle changes from the traditional recipe that utilizes ingredients available to me locally during the winter here in Maine. Freshly harvested oyster mushrooms, smokey bacon, and dried herbs from the land make lovely additions to this classically delicious sauce.
Sauce is something to be taken seriously. While you can simply dump all the ingredients in the pot, simmer it for a few hours and call it a day, I feel this recipe deserves your attention from start to finish and the outcome will have your dinner guests in awe of your cooking skills. I was taught many years ago that LOVE is the number one ingredient in everything you make and sauce is all about the love!
This recipe makes a large pot of sauce, enough for a large crowd, or plenty to enjoy then freeze for a later meal.
How to Make Meat Sauce
- 1 pound grass fed ground beef
- 1 pound pastured ground pork
- 2 strips of bacon or a chunk of pancetta
- 2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms (optional)
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 celery stalk, diced small
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 quarts of tomato puree
- 6 cups of beef or chicken stock
- 1 strip or laver, kelp, or malaria seaweed, soaked in water for 1 hr.
- 2 bay leaves
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup raw cream or a few tablespoons of raw butter
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add a few tablespoons of lard or ghee, then brown the meat, stirring often to prevent burning. Cook the meat until done all the way through. Place the meat in a colander or remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. The excess fat can be poured off and reserved for another use.
- Remove the seaweed from the liquid and roughly chop. set aside.
- Place the pan back on the stove then add the chopped bacon. Once it begins to render, add the mushrooms and cook together for a few minutes before adding the carrots, celery, and onion. Stir to combine, cook for a few additional minutes then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Pour the meat back into the pot, add the tomatoes, bay leaf, kelp, and stock, then loosely cover and simmer slowly for 8-12 hrs. Remember to stir the sauce with preferably your favorite wooden spoon every so often. Once the sauce is done cooking, taste, season with sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- To finish the sauce you have the option to stir in butter or cream, which will give it a creamier and richer taste. Sometimes, I'll omit the dairy and drizzle good olive oil over a bowl of freshly made pasta and grated Romano cheese.
- Enjoy over your favorite pasta or top a fresh batch of mashed potatoes.