Italian-American Meat Sauce
Sugo di Carne

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Italian-American Meat Sauce
Sugo di Carne
cookbook: Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
user comments (1)

serves: about 8 cups

If you have trouble finding ground pork, or if you prefer to grind your own, it's really very easy. (And if you buy a piece of bone-in pork to grind, you'll have the bones you need for the sauce.) Remove all bones and gristle from the meat, but leave the fat. Cut the pork into 1-inch pieces, chill them thoroughly. Grind about half at a time in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse, using quick on/off motions until the meat is coarsely ground. In my region of Italy, tomato paste is usually added along with the onions to caramelize it a little bit. But around Naples, and the rest of Southern Italy, tomato paste is stirred right into the sauce. That's how I do it here. When the sauce is finished simmering, you can pull the meat from the bones and stir it into the sauce or you can do what I do- nibble on them while the sauce perks away. This makes quite a bit of sauce-enough to feed a small crowd and have enough left over to freeze in small quantities for a quick pasta meal for one or two.


2 35-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
6 meaty pork neck bones, (about 3/4 pound)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
¾ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup tomato paste
4 bay leaves
1½ teaspoons dried oregano, preferably the type dried on the branch, crumbled
4 cups hot water


Pass the tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with the fine blade. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4 to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Make a little room in the center of the pot, dump in the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the pork bones and cook, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and pork and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat changes color and the water it gives off is boiled away, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking until the meat is browned about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and oregano then pour in the wine. Bring to a boil and cook, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the pot, until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Pour in the tomatoes, then stir in the tomato paste until is dissolved. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce takes on a deep, brick-red color, 2 to 3 hours. Add the hot water, about 1/2 cup at a time, as necessary to maintain the level of liquid for the length of time the sauce cooks.

Skim off any fat floating on top and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The sauce can be prepared entirely in advance and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Lidia's Italian American Kitchen

One of Lidia's most personal and instructive cookbooks, "Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen", focuses on Lidia’s own experience in America, and her connection in Italian-American cuisine. It is the story of how Italian-American cooking is a cuisine born of adaptation and necessity, created by new immigrants who tried to recreate the flavors of their homeland using whatever American ingredients they had access to.

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