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Italian Sausage Italian sausage is pork seasoned with Italian seasoning, herbs, and dried fennel. It comes sweet, mild or hot. For this recipe I used hot sausage to get the heat going. Use whatever sausage you prefer I often swap the hot sausage out for the mild.
Ground Beef: Ground beef has more fat than pork so it adds a lot of extra flavor to the dish. I generally like to keep the ground beef down to a third or fourth the amount of Italian sausage. i really just want a little fat and flavor.
Vegetables I love to add tons of vegetables to my meat sauce. one, because it all simmers down unnoticed. It’s healthier, and i can get rid of unused vegetables this way. My go to staples regardless of what vegetables I have on hand are carrots, onions and a ton of garlic.
Tomatoes: Crushed canned tomatoes are always consistent. It cuts down on the fresh tomato prep. it’s just overall convenient. For my tomato sauce i like to use crushed tomatoes. The are broken down just enough to make a thick sauce. Pureed tomatoes are best for a quick sauce. Diced canned tomatoes work but I find they have better uses.
Hot Peppers: Hot peppers can be hard to find so i stick with the pickled jarred variety. The small hot peppers are always crunchy, consistent and full of flavor. Hot peppers are generally near the olives.
Herbs: Herbs are a huge part of great sauce and they all are unique. Pop in some bay leaf to get that all day cooking feel. Dried herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano work best simmered and broken down in the sauce since they’ll have some time to permeate the meat. Fresh herbs like basil and parsley go in right before serving so that they don’t get lost. The residual heat from the pasta is all it needs.
prep: prep for meat sauce is easy. have your vegetables minced and ready in a bowl, have your wine corked and open, canned tomatoes and paste remove the lids. little things help smooth the process over. if you make too much sauce store it for lasagna or a pasta bake in the future.
to drain or not to drain: after you cook your meat you’re often left with a pool of fat. when using straight pork the amount of fat is generally not a problem. when introducing beef that’s where a ton of rendered fat comes in. you have two options drain half of the fat like i do or leave it in. leaving it in will result in you having to adjust the amount of tomato paste needed for the recipe so it will properly thicken. so just drain half it filled with flavor without all the added remedying. also, don’t rinse your meat. that shouldn’t be a thing.
cooking the pasta: cook the pasta according to the package instructions. pasta varies from brand to brand and cooking times. cook the noodles to al dente, drain and finish the noodles in sauce. once the noodles have been covered and set they’ll double in size.
thickening the sauce: if your sauce is too thin the best option is tomato paste. tomato paste should be the go-to option for sauce but sometimes were out. if your sauce is too fatty remove the sauce from the heat. allow the pot to start to cool so the fat can float to the top. once at the top remove the fat with a spoon. or as a last ditch effort use cornstarch. a cold water slurry will help thicken the sauce but it wont bind fat so if fat is the problem remove it.