Spaghetti and Meat Ragu the Perfect Date Dinner

by Pamela

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

After 10 years of marriage, we don’t really go out on “dates” very often.  It’s not that we don’t go to restaurants…if it was up to Craig, we’d eat out every meal.  But, we don’t go out to eat very often.  Takeout is as close to restaurants as we come most days.  Of course, if I throw a big enough hissy fit, we go just so that he can shut me up…but you have to really use those sparingly or they lose their effectiveness.

I am usually okay with his restaurant choices for takeout, but our favorite Italian restaurant’s food just does not taste the same when we eat it at home.  And I am not just saying that because the restaurant serves all you can eat, made from scratch, garlic butter foccacia bread either.  So when the big dinner decision was made that he wanted Italian, and he suggested take-out, he got a really awful scowl thrown his way.  No hissy fit, just the scowl.

I’m no Italian, in fact I’m a Polish girl from Cleveland, but I think I make a pretty mean meat sauce/ragu.  So if Craig wants Italian, I thought I’d make some spaghetti with a meat ragu.

This is one of the best meals to make if you are trying to impress that special someone or if you somehow committed yourself to making dinner for that new guy you just started dating (and you have no idea what posssessed you to make that offer, but now your stuck with it).  The great thing about the ragu is that not only is it easy to make, but you can have it cooking while you’re doing other things, like cleaning up (stuffing all your clothes into your closet and under your bed).  The longer you can cook the ragu, the better it tastes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4-5 Cloves of Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Large White Onion – Chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 1/4 Pounds Ground Beef (lean ground beef 85/15)
  • 3/4 Pounds Italian Sausage (casings removed and crumbled)
  • 1 14.5 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Parmigiano – Reggiano

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat,  add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Stir to combine and then continue to stir frequently.  In a large pan, heat olive oil to shimmering and add garlic and onions.  Cook garlic and onion mixture until onions are very soft and begin to caramelize (heat should be turned to medium/medium-high).  Add 3/4 of onion and garlic mixture to simmering sauce.  Stir to combine, then stir in wine and basil.  Turn sauce down to simmer.  In pan with the remaining onions and garlic, add crumbled Italian sausage and beef.  Before meat is completely browned, sprinkle the ground cloves and a pinch of salt over the top and stir to combine.  Once meat is browned remove from heat.

At this point, the sauce should be reduced by half.  Pour off any liquid in the meat pan, then add meat to sauce.  Add Worcestershire Sauce. Stir to combine then continue cooking sauce to desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon sauce/ragu over cooked pasta or polenta then sprinkle with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

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