Spaghetti was always a favorite meal as a kid. We never had it often because my dad didn’t like it. So whenever he would go on a fishing trip with friends we would often have spaghetti for one meal as well as some other of our favorites, depending on how long the fishing trip lasted. I grew up eating spaghetti with a tomato sauce. Sometimes meat was in the sauce, but not usually. Often huge, delicious, meatballs that resembled mini-meatloaves would bob in the tomato sauce. The pasta would be cooked, drained, and rinsed. A pile of slippery pasta (because it was rinsed) would be heaped on the plate and then tomato sauce would be ladled on top. Heavy on the oregano, we loved this sauce. The long sphaghetti was fun to eat and slurp up, another reason my dad hated spaghetti! Years later when my husband was stationed in northern Italy while drafted into the Army I learned to love pasta with authentic sauce. We made friends with a family who later adopted our cat when we left Italy. An elderly woman in the family told me how she made her sauce common to Northern Italy. I was hooked. Never once while in Italy for nearly two years did I ever see or eat spaghetti, or any pasta, that had the sauce served on top of the pasta. That is the American way I was told. Italians mix their sauce directly into hot pasta that has not been rinsed so the flavor of the sauce is absorbed into the pasta. Delicious trick. The sauce itselt had no garlic which surprised me. Garlic is associated with southern Italy. Who knew? Northern Italians always had a bit of nutmeg, freshly grated, in their sauce. More in white sauce but a bit in red sauce which was an even bigger surprise. The lovely pale orange sauce soon became my favorite thing to eat, and to this day it still is. A few years ago I was lucky enough to take an Italian cooking class at Iowa State University. What a perfect gift that was from my husband. The instructor knew Italian cooking like the back of her hand having lived in Italy as well as having an Italian mother. The class was perfect. I learned to make good, homemade pasta, and sauces of all types. The most prized recipe she shared for me was Pasta Bolognese. I combined her recipe with ingredients our friend in Italy had told me she put into her sauce, and now I have my own favorite sauce. It is not a mistake as you may think as you read this that there is no garlic, no basil, no oregano, and very little salt. Nope, you read it correctly, there is not. Simple and delicious it takes a bit of time to cook, but worth every minute.
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb lean ground beef, or bison
3 strips lean bacon. Nitrate-free I hope!
Finely chop 1 very large onion, 2 medum carrots, and 2 stalks of celery
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup red wine (Cabernet is my preference, Merlot works too.)
28 oz whole tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup half and half
In a large saute pan add diced bacon, butter, onions, carrots, and celerly. Cook on medium heat just until the onions begin to turn a light golden color and are soft. Break up the meat and add to the pan and cook until meat is done, but not crispy or heavily browned. Add pepper and red wine. Add tomatoes and break apart as they cook. Cook about 15 minutes on medium, uncovered and stirring frequently. Add the half and half and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Salt to taste, but remember you will be cooking your pasta in salted water so be careful how much salt you add to the sauce. I add no salt to the sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer 60 to 90 minutes. Stir frequently. At this point I have put everything in a crock pot with the lid partially off and cook on high for 4 hours. Delicious!