I’m half Italian. I live in Brooklyn. I’m third generation Brooklyn on both sides. I grew up eating pasta with red sauce at grandma and grandpa’s for Sunday dinner (at 2pm). They might have shaken their heads at this one if they were alive today. I promise this is so freaking delicious. My three year old boy goes bananas for it. Warning: vegetarians might consider skipping this post entirely.
This makes an enormous pot.
1.5 lbs ground 90% beef (much better if your butcher grinds it)
~1 lb sweet Italian sausage (my butcher makes these) decased and broken up
~1 lb hot Italian sausage (ditto)
~1 lb grass fed chuck stew chunks
2 jars Classico Florentine Spinach and Cheese sauce**
1 large can diced organic tomatoes
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 large sweet onion, diced
3/4 to 1 cup red wine
a little unsalted beef stock on standby (might not be necessary)
4 large carrots, one diced small, the rest medium diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground fennel
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste
**I use this particular Classico blend because I think it tastes very good and it only contains 4g sugar per serving. That’s around half of others. And I know, the real Italian thing to do would be to cook everything from scratch, but this is a quick prep recipe, so don’t hate.
- Add a pat of butter to a large (8qt) stock pot. Get it really hot, and add chuck and sausage chunks. Brown them well. Remove and set aside.
- Add ground beef to pot and brown. Add crushed garlic and let turn golden brown in beef fat. Add pepper to taste. Don’t salt yet or else you’ll draw out too much water from items in pot and reduce cooking temp too much. Add onions and cook until translucent with some pieces lightly browned. Add salt to taste now. Add ground fennel, oregano (I like a lot), basil (I like a lot), cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the sweet fragrance makes you drool onto your toes.
- Add browned chuck and sausage back to pot. Add jarred tomato sauce, small diced carrot (adds sweetness) canned diced tomatoes and wine. Bring pot to a simmer and leave there for 2.5 to 3 hours. Chuck should be very tender. Add eggplant, peppers and remaining carrots. Cook until tender (15-25 mins depending on how soft you like). Done.
I serve this over rice pasta, jasmine rice, oatmeal (yes, that’s right), potatoes, cauliflower, cauliflower and cabbage, butternut squash, kabocha squash, spiralized zucchini, etc.