I made a meat sauce the other night. Our kids were coming to dinner and Jill gave me a night off from Vegan cooking. She said, “Make a pasta for the kids and I’ll figure something out for myself. Don’t worry.” This immediately made me start to worry and I decided to roast some vegetables, as well.
The meat sauce could be called “Mike’s Sauce”. It’s not in any way Italian. It dates back to when we shared a beach house with three other couples – back when we were in our twenties. This is the sauce that fed the multitudes. It’s cheap and good. This time I served it with a pound of penne.
The new twist – you have to have a new twist, no? – is that I make a sauté of fresh hot peppers to serve on the side for anyone who likes it spicy. The thing about using fresh peppers is that they not only have heat; they have that wonderful, deep, sweet, fresh-pepper taste.
Olive oil – 4 tbsps
Garlic – 3 cloves
Onion – 1 medium yellow
Fennel – 1 bulb
Carrots – 2 medium
Celery – 2 stalks
Ground beef – 1 ½ pounds (you can mix beef and veal)
Italian sweet sausages – 5
White wine – 1 ½ cups
San Marzano Tomatoes – 1 28 0z. can pour them into a bowl and
break them up with your hands)
Fresh, hot peppers (recipe to follow)
1. Chop all the veg into a medium dice; thinly slice the garlic
2. Boil the sausages in water until about half-done; then slice them thinly;
3. In a big pan, sauté the veg over medium heat until translucent;
4. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so;
5. Add the ground meat and brown;
6. When the meat is done, tip the pan and pour off any excess fat;
7. Add the wine; turn up the heat to high and bubble it away, stirring occasionally;
8. Add the tomatoes, salt generously and stir;
9. Add the sliced sausages
10. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for forty minutes to an hour,
stirring; add a little water, if necessary.
FRESH HOT PEPPERS
Shop for a nice variety of hot peppers. I like the long Italian hot peppers we’re seeing locally now; then some jalapeno, cayenne, anaheim, chipotle, habanera (these are unbelievably hot – be careful). Anyway, make your own mix; slice them up and gently sauté in a nice amount of olive oil.
Use latex or surgical gloves when you clean and chop the peppers; also set aside a separate cutting board.
If you don’t use gloves, make sure not to touch your wife in an intimate manner for at least a week.
Store the peppers with all the oil in a tightly closed container. Serve on the side of almost anything. I made some roasted potatoes and onions the other night – the potatoes cut into nice chunks, tossed in olive oil and salt and roasted in a fairly hot oven. Then I peeled a few dozen pearl onions and threw them in and shook the whole thing up. Anyway, the hot peppers on the side went beautifully with this dish.