Los Angeles woke up to low clouds and gentle rain this morning. Ottie was scheduled to have a broken tooth pulled out and, at 7 am, blissfully unaware, jumped into the car, so full of excitement he didn’t even notice breakfast hadn’t been served. Not even 10 minutes into our drive, traffic came to a standstill and eventually I had to resign to the road closure stemming from a traffic accident. Winding roads and rain are not a good combination for LA drivers who forget from season to season how to drive on wet asphalt.
Ottie, ignoring the luck that had befallen him and being granted a week of reprieve, seemed peeved at our turnaround and I, on the other hand, found myself with my plans suddenly screeching to a halt. With a belly full of oatmeal and a paper with no more news to give, I looked out the window pondering what to do next. Vacuuming, writing, bill paying were all on the must do list but, somehow, meat sauce took precedence. The first cold deserved to be celebrated with some comfort food in the form of my mother’s time honored ragout.
This is a traditional Bolognese recipe, as in from the city of Bologna – what would coat my tagliatelle every Sunday. My mom would always sneak a bit of veal in it but, with veal $20 a pound and most people’s aversion to having young calves for dinner, I removed it and adjusted the recipe by adding a bit more pork. I find that the combination of beef and pork (as opposed to beef alone) makes for a more complex and delicate flavor. Adding milk is my mother’s trick to keep the meat moist and juicy.
Ottie’s nose turned up at the smell of the meat browning in the pan – he seems content and I am not going to break his bubble. A week from now he will be tasting stitches in his mouth so it’s only fair to make sure a bit of pasta finds its way into his bowl tonight.
MY MOTHER’S ORIGINAL MEAT SAUCE RECIPE
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
10 oz Ground Beef, not too lean
6 oz Ground Pork
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 T Tomato Paste
1 C Milk
3 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat and add onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, until golden.
- In the meantime, heat remaining oil in a saute pan and, when hot, add the beef and pork, breaking them with a spoon. Salt and brown the meat for a few minutes.
- Back to the first pot, once the vegetables are golden, add the tomato paste and mix. Drop in the canned tomatoes, breaking them with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned meat from the pan and transfer into the tomato sauce. Add the milk and stir.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook, covered, for at least 1 1/2 hour to 2 hours.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Use to coat your favourite pasta. Makes enough for 4 to 6.