If you’re a home cook you need a good meat sauce recipe up your sleeve. This is one of mine. Its secret is that I don’t brown the meat. That way it doesn’t toughen and need hours of braising to tenderize again. I also use a food processor to save a lot of knife work. Quick, easy and tasty!
Yield: 4-6 Servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large
3 cloves garlic
2 cups button mushrooms
3 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, or bacon, thinly sliced
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
1 can tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 bay leaves
1 large can stewed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Pulse onions, carrots, garlic cloves, mushrooms, celery and olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped. This may need to be done in several batches.
Heat a large sauté pan with the olive oil and add pancetta. Fry until golden, aromatizing the oil with the rich flavour of the Italian bacon. Add the vegetable mixture and sauté until it begins to caramelize. Add ground meats and stir vigorously to break apart. Stir in the tomato paste, red wine, bay leaf and stewed tomatoes and continue to stir and break up any chunks of meat. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and all the flavours have blended. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
This is one of the great beef stews of the world. It's a uniquely Hungarian dish that's half way between a soup and a stew. While in Hungary, I learned a couple of things. First, that every cook has a different version of this recipe and second, that everyone believes their version is the most authentic. So to me, that means all versions are authentic as long as they contain Hungarian flavours.
This recipe is dedicated to the memory of Ann Szemba, my Hungarian friend who traveled with me to Hungary and taught me this dish.