Recently, Kiddo was given a strange gift – a small bottle of imported Italian Balsamic Vinegar. I say strange because Balsamic Vinegar is not a typical gift to give a twenty-year-old guy. Kiddo in turn gave the bottle to me.
Smart guy. Kiddo knew I would see the bottle and begin planning one of his favorite kind of meals – something Italian – something with pasta, a rich meat sauce and warm focaccia bread. (The bread I like to use best when not making from scratch is an unadorned sea salt focaccia from a nearby bakery. I brush the top with a little olive oil and fresh or dried herbs just before warming it in the oven). Kiddo loves any kind of bread dipped in a good Balsamic Vinegar. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful pasta dinner, with warm Focaccia dipped in a blend of olive oil and imported Balsamic Vinegar.
While the recipe below calls for a pound of Spaghetti noodles, the Meaty Ragù sauce can stand up well to just about any type of pasta – especially shells or tubular pastas.
Spaghetti with Meaty Ragù
1 Lb Mild Italian Sausage
2-3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
3-4 Springs Fresh Thyme, leaves only
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped or torn
2 teaspoons Fresh Oregano, chopped or torn
1 Can (14.5) Oz Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic
2 Jars Fire-Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce
¼-½ Cup Red Wine
1 lb Spaghetti Pasta, cooked al dente
Finely chop or tear fresh herbs and set aside. Mince garlic and set aside until ready to use. In a lightly oiled large CAST IRON skillet, crumble Italian Sausage over medium heat. Cook meat, breaking up into small pieces as it browns. Once meat has cooked through, drain well and return to skillet.
Add herbs, garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes, pasta sauce and wine. Bring to a full boil, lower heat and allow to simmer until ready to serve.
The longer the sauce simmers, the more intense the flavors. For best results, sauce should be allowed to simmer for a minimum of 1 hour for flavors to mature and sauce to thicken. If sauce becomes too dry, thin with a splash or two of wine. Another option would be to brown the meat, place all the ingredients in a crock pot and allow to simmer on low for about 8 hours. Remove lid from crock pot and let sauce thicken while the noodles are cooked.
For Spaghetti Noodles: Bring a pot of well-salted water to a full boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al-dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking water. DO NOT RINSE!
Serving options: Leave pasta in colander over a pot of barely simmering water. Let everyone serve themselves, using as much or as little of the sauce as desired. Or place pasta in a large serving bowl, spoon meat sauce over pasta, toss to blend and serve.