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Category: Sauces

Weeknight Bolognese

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper
4 cups beef broth
OR 4 tsp Better than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base + 2 cups water
6 ounces pancetta, chopped course
1 onion, chopped coarse
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped coarse
1 celery rib, copped coarse
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 pound tagliatelle
* less than 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
* basil
* 1/4 tsp thyme
* 1/4 tsp oregano

Toss beef with water, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper until thoroughly combined.

(Note: If using bouillon + water, this step can be skipped) Bring broth to a boil over high heat in large pot (this will be used to cook pasta later) and cook until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Pulse pancetta in food processor until finely chopped, 15 to 20 pulses. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and pulse until vegetables are finely chopped and mixture has paste-like consistency, 12 to 15 pulses, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Heat butter and oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. When foaming subsides, add pancetta-vegetable mixture and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Spread mixture in even layer in bottom of pot and continue to cook, stirring every couple minutes, until very dark browned bits form on bottom of pot, 7 to 12 minutes longer. Stir in tomato paste and cook until paste is rust-colored and bottom of pan is dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, add beef, and cook, using wooden spoons to break meat into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch, until beef has just lost raw pink color, 4 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up and browned bits, and begin to simmer. Cook until wine has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and Parmesan. Return sauce to simmer; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauce will look thin at this point.

Rinse pot that held broth. While sauce simmers, bring 4 quarts water to boil in now-empty pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to pot with sauce and toss to combine. Adjust sauce consistency with reserved cooking water as needed.

Mojo de Ajo

4 large heads garlic
    or 10 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) peeled garlic cloves
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Break the heads of garlic apart, then mash each clove (a fist against the side of a knife is what I do) to release the clove from its papery skin; if using already-peeled garlic, scoop the cloves into a heavy plastic bag and use a rolling pin to mash them slightly.

Stir together the garlic, oil and salt in an 8×8-inch baking pan (make sure all the garlic is submerged), slide it into the oven and bake until the garlic is soft and lightly brown, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Add the lime juice and return to the oven for 20 minutes for the garlic to absorb the lime and turn golden brown.

Using a potato masher or large fork, mash the garlic into a coarse puree.  Pour the mixture into a wide-mouth storage container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to enjoy some deliciousness. The mojo will last for up to three months as long as the garlic stays submerged under the oil.

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce

12-to 16-ounce duck breast half, cut into equal halves
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 large)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
8 halved pitted sweet red cherries, fresh or frozen, thawed
2 tablespoons tawny Port
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
pinch ground clove
salt and pepper, to taste

Place duck breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to even thickness (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch). Discard plastic wrap. Using sharp knife, score skin in 3/4-inch diamond pattern (do not cut into flesh).  Pat dry and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet and cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 6-8 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface, tent with foil to keep warm, and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet and stir over medium heat 30 seconds. Add broth, cherries, Port, honey, thyme, and clove. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon cold butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice duck. Fan slices out on plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce

3/4 lb. ground lamb
1/4 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup onion, shredded & squeezed dry
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground marjoram or oregano
1 tsp ground rosemary
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand or in a food processor for 1-2 minutes. Form into small patties. Cook about 4 minutes per side over medium-high heat, until dark crust forms. Slice meat and serve in a pita with toppings (tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, olives, etc.).

Tzatziki sauce:
2 English cucumbers, halved crosswise
Kosher salt
1¾ cups whole-milk Greek or low-fat Greek yogurt (not fat-free)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
3+ tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Grate the cucumber on the larger holes, rotating around to avoid the seedy core. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt, toss, and set in a colander to drain for 10 minutes.

Whisk yogurt, oil, garlic, mint, dill, and vinegar in a bowl.

Squeeze the cucumber shreds in a cheesecloth or kitchen towel to remove as much liquid as possible, reserve 2 teaspoons of the cucumber liquid. Finely chop the squeezed cucumber, then stir into yogurt mixture. Stir in the reserved cucumber liquid and ½ teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with additional mint and dill.

London Broil with Zinfandel Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme (1-2 tsp)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (1-2 Tbsp)
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp Worchestire sauce
1 Tbsp honey
ground black pepper

2 lbs. london broil/flank steak

1 cup zinfandel red wine
2 cups beef/veal stock
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Place marinade ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Place marinade in a freezer bag with the steak and marinate 4 to 12 hours in the fridge.  Gtill steak to medium-rare (about 4 minutes per side over high heat for an average flank steak, 140-145 degrees).

Place wine in a non-reactive pan and reduce over medium heatuntil 1 Tbsp remains.  Add stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  WHisk in tomato paste and continue cooking until sauce thickens to about 1 cup.  Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. steak (flank, skirt, or sirloin)
1 Tbsp sriracha or other asian chili-garlic sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seed oil (optional)
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated or sliced

2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp spicy asian mustard
1 tsp rice or white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin (optional)

8 leaves of boston bibb lettuce
red onion, sliced paper thin
green onions, sliced
carrot, julienned
jalapeno or red chile, sliced thin
roasted peanuts, crushed
lime wedges
fresh cilantro

Steak can be cut into long strips about 2 inches wide for faster marinating and cooking.  Combine chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, lime juice, garlic, and ginger.  Place steak in marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side, or until desired doneness.  Let meat rest 5- 10 minutes, then slice against the grain in thin strips.  Place a few strips of steak onto a lettuce leave, top with desired toppings, and then a drizzle of sauce.

Tomato Meat Sauce

1.5 lbs lean ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Brown ground beef over medium heat in a large stock pot.  Drain beef and set aside.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add all remaining ingredients, mix well, simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Note: Adaptation from Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1.5 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Mix eggs and tomato paste.  Add water, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix in beef, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese using your hands.  Shape into balls, about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or saute until brown on all around.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add in remaining 9 ingredients, mix well, simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Add meatballs to sauce for the last 30 minutes.

Salsa di Pomodoro (simple tomato sauce)

1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 (28oz) cans of whole or crushed Italian style plum tomatoes, puréed
8-10 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
3 large sprigs of fresh basil (12-16 leaves chopped or chiffonade)
couple sprigs of fresh oregano, optional
1 tsp salt
cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add the minced garlic and let it cook for 1-2 minutes, be careful not to let it brown at all. Add crushed red pepper and cook about 1 minute more.

Increase heat to medium, add the tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes (slightly longer if the tomatoes were excessively watery). I like to put one of the basil sprigs and some oregano sprigs in during the cooking process.

Add the chopped basil leaves, salt, and pepper and let sit for a 5-10 minutes for the flavors to release off the heat or on low.

Note: If your sauce is too acidic, try adding a carrot to the pan while the sauce cooks and removing before blending. Small amounts of butter may also help with acidity. The quality of the tomatoes really makes a difference in this simple sauce.

Ragu Bolognese

4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1.5 pounds lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
28 ounces Italian plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt, to taste
4-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
1 tsp dried oregano
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

In a large, deep, heavy pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low. Add the onions and saute briefly. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are soft and barely begin to color.

Crumble the meat into the pan. Lightly season the meat with salt. Cook and stir the ingredients until the meat loses its raw red color. Add the wine.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally until all the wine had evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium and add the milk and nutmeg. Continue cooking and stirring until the milk has evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce when the milk has evaporated and stir thoroughly.

Set the heat to low and allow the ragu to cook uncovered for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add basil, oregano, and parsley the last 10 minutes of cooking. Check seasoning and salt to taste.

Serve over tagliatelle or rigatoni pasta, topped with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and basil chiffonade.