I use this sauce primarily for lasagna, but it works well as a red sauce for any pasta. It takes a bit of work, but the results are worth it. It is a large recipe (enough to make two trays of lasagna) but the sauce freezes well, or you can simply cut it in half.
4 oz butter
4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
16 oz lean ground beef
16 oz ground lamb (if you can’t find or don’t want to use ground lamb, simply use an extra 8 oz of ground beef and 8 oz of sausage)
16 oz sweet italian sausage
1 bulb garlic, finely chopped
1 cups dry red wine (pick something you like to drink, since you won’t use the whole bottle in this)
2 cups whole milk
2 15 oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 TBS tomato puree dissolved in 1 cup water
2 tsp dried oregano
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, depending on your taste
In a large sauce pan (preferably something you’d cook a big batch of chili in) melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. then add the meat and the chopped garlic, and cook until it is no longer pink. (At this point, you can drain the excess fat from the sauce by either pouring the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, or by blotting the top with paper towels. I use this step myself, as too much fat takes away from the flavor of the sauce)
Pour in the wine and increase the heat and boil, stirring frequently, until the wine has evaporated. Then add the milk and continue to boil, stirring all the time, until it has evaporated also.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree mixture, oregano, and bay leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper. (If you season it to taste now, it will be too much by the time it is finished cooking).
Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil, and then reduce it to the lowest possible heat and cover, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water if the mixture starts to look dry. Cook for at least two hours. At this point you can finish seasoning with salt and pepper, add the chopped parsley, and you have a sauce, which is really good. OR…
If you have the time (i.e. you’re not making this sauce for dinner tonight) cook the sauce for a total of four hours, then refrigerate over night. The next day, cook for another four hours over low heat, and then refrigerate again overnight. The third day, cook it for an additional four hours over low heat. Then, add the salt and pepper to taste, as well as the chopped parsley. Like chili, the flavor of this sauce gets better with age, so by using these extra steps, you allow the flavors to blend much more, creating an excellent sauce. Finally, when I cook it this way, I use a mixture of 1 can (12-16 oz) beef broth and an equal amount of water, and I add some of this mixture while cooking if it starts to dry out instead of just water. It’s a fair amount of time, but the results are well worth the effort. Enjoy!