Thursday, September 8, 2011

Simple Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

We experienced the first cool, crisp fall day yesterday so it was the perfect night for a nice warm, hearty pasta. Even though the sauce takes some time to make, it couldn't be easier to put together. You probably have everything to make this in your pantry and fridge already. This is an adaptation of Marcella Hazan's "Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter" (published in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking).

Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour
Active Time: about 10 minutes

3/4 lb ground beef (I used lean; you'll have to adjust the amount of butter you use based on the fat content of your beef)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
28 oz canned diced tomatoes (preferable San Marzano)
1 white onion, cut in half at the equator and peeled (root and stem ends left intact)
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp vermouth
freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
1 lb dried spaghetti, or pasta of choice

In a 4-qt pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, season with salt and stir, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the beef is browned. Add the tomatoes, onion halves, pepper to taste, and another pinch of salt (depending on how salty your tomatoes are). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let barely simmer for about 50 minutes. This is the great part--you don't actually have to touch the sauce at all during this time. After all that simmering, fat should have risen to the top of the pot.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water, season generously with salt, and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and keep warm while the sauce finishes.

Remove the onion halves from the sauce and discard or save for another use. Stir and taste for seasonings. Turn up the heat to a medium boil and add the vermouth. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes or so. Divide the pasta between bowls and spoon sauce over. Add cheese if you'd like and enjoy!

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