This is the classic, hearty meat sauce from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It requires the gentlest of cooking, so that all the flavors are imparted to the meat and, in return, the meat contributes a stout robustness. The milk and cream add a sweetness not found in other sauces. Prosciutto is included in this recipe, but sometimes pancetta and even chicken livers are added instead for depth of flavor. If all three types of ground meat are not available, very lean, well-ground beef will do. Serve this sauce over your favorite type of regular or gluten-free pasta.
Serves: 6Hands-on: 25 minutesTotal: 3 hours 35 minutesDifficulty: Medium
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, in chunks
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
- 4 Tbsp. finely chopped prosciutto
- ¼ lb. ground lean beef
- ¼ lb. ground pork
- ¼ lb. ground veal
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 can (28 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes in purée, with juice, chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Combine the butter, onion, celery, and carrot in a large, deep saucepan and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened. Lower the heat, and add the prosciutto and ground meats, being careful not to brown them.
- Break up the meat with a spoon. It should remain pink and soft so that it can absorb surrounding flavors. Add the wine and salt and pepper, and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the milk and nutmeg, stir, and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat as much as possible. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and making sure that the cooking is ever so gentle—just a bubble—for 3 hours. Stir in the cream just before serving.