On a thick tomato sauce, I'd use a lot of real tomatoes in season cooked down slowly. I happen to not like the taste of tomato paste in sauces , which maybe because I've never had really good tomato paste, or maybe from all those cheapo pizzas). A lot of sauce recipes by good chefs do list it.
These recipes are northern italian:
Here's M. Hazan's bolognese
I don't consider it a tomato sauce as such, even though tomatoes are a part of the flavor blend. This one presents as a velvety meat sauce.
Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
Ragu' is not to be confused with ragout. A ragout is a French meat stew, while ragu' is Bologna's meat sauce for seasoning its homemade pasta. The only thing they share is the common and justified origin in the verb ragouter, which means "to excite the appetite."
A properly made ragu' clinging to the folds of homemade noodles is one of the most satisfying experiences accessible to the sense of taste. It is no doubt one of the greatest attractions of the enchanting city of Bologna, and the Bolognese claim one cannot make a true ragu' anywhere else. This may be so, but with a little care, we can come very close to it. There are three essential points you must remember to make a successful ragu'.
* The meat must be sauteed just barely long enough to lose its raw color. It must not brown or it will lose delicacy.
* It must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added. This keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.
* It must cook at the merest simmer for a long, long time. The minimum is 3 1/2 hours; 5 is better.
The union of tagliatelle and ragu' is a marriage made in heaven, but ragu' is also very good with tortellini, it is indispensable in lasagne, and is excellent with such macaroni as rigatoni, ziti, conchiglie, and rotelle. Whenever a menuy lists pasta alla bolognese, that means it is served with ragu'.
For 6 servings, or 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups
2 tbs chopped yellow onion
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter
2 tbs chopped celery
2 tbs chopped carrot
[the battuto, says osso]
3/4 pound ground lean beef, preferably chuck or the meat from the neck
[osso - I sincerely doubt she means 7% fat, I'd use at least 15%]
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup milk [I think she means whole milk, and don't play with that myself]
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups canned italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juice.
1. An earthenware pot should be your first choice for making ragu'. If you don't have one available, use a heavy, enameled cast-iron casserole, the deepest one you have (to keep the ragu from reducing too quickly). Put in the [battuto] chopped onion, with all the oil and butter, celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes.
[I use my army navy store cast iron, no enamel, dutch oven]
2. Add the ground beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add 1 tsp sallt, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw, red color. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated. [err on the side of too little cooking, I'd say]
3. Turn the heat down to medium, add the milk and the nutmeg, and cook until the milk has [pretty much] evaporated. Stir frequently.
4. When the milk has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer, just and occasional bubble. [italics osso] Cook, uncovered for a minimum of 3 1/2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and correct for salt. (If you cannot watch the sauce for such a long stretch, you can turn off the heat and rsume cooking it later on. But do finish cooking it in one day.)
Note: Ragu' can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen. Reheat until it simmers for about 15 minutes before using.
Here's Giuliano Bugialli's winter tomato sauce
- doesn't seem all that time consuming in contrast to the slow cooked bolognese:
2 carrots, scrapped
1 large red onion, cleaned
2 celery ribs
1 large clove garlic, peeled
5 or 6 sprigs italian parsley, leaves only
2 or 3 leaves basil, fresh or preserved in salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup hot meat or chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, or
1 pound canned tomatoes, preferably imported italian, drained
Chop the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, and basil very fine, heat oil in a flameproof saucepan (preferably terra-cotta, but a heavy enameled one will do), then add chopped ingredients along with the salt and pepper. Heat over low heat and saute very gently until golden (about 12 minutes).
Add the wine and let it evaporate; then, stirring very well with a wooden spoon, pour in the hot broth and reduce on low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer very slowly for about 20 minutes until they are completely cooked and the sauce is homogeneous.
Taste for salt and pepper. If more salt is needed add an extra cup of lukewarm water also, in order to integrate the additional salt, and reduce.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper's recipe for Winter Tomato Sauce
is only slightly different from Bugialli's, but I'll copy it anyway, interesting details, plus no wine -
She says to play with the sauce's flavorings as Emilia-Romagna cooks do. Saute in a little butter, pancetta, or prosciutto instead of olive oil. Season with basil, rosemary, marjoram, or sage. And that the recipe doubles easily.
3 tablespooons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 small carrot, minced
1 small stalk celery with leaves, minced
3 tablespoons minced italian parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 fresh sage leaves and 1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon imported italian tomato paste
2 pounds canned tomatoes in their liquid, or fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
pinch of sugar (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Working ahead: The sauce can be made up to 4 days before serving. Cook, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Freeze the sauce up to 3 months.
Making the sauce:
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a 3 to 4 cup saucepan. Drop in the minced vegetables and parsley. Slowly saute, stirring often, 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Add the garlic and herbs, and cook only 30 seconds. Blend in the tomato paste and the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Bring the sauce to a lively bubble and keep it uncovered as you cook i over medium-high heat 8 minutes, or until thickened. Taste for seasoning.
Back later with some southern italian recipes.