Still not feeling great over here in sunny Santa Cruz, but the weather has been wonderful, and this weekend we accomplished some work on our sad excuse for a yard -- isn't it interesting how you go to the garden center where the majority of plants cost between three and seven dollars and you still can't get out of there with a bill under $100? Ah-hmmmmm,...
I've been spending absolutely no time in the kitchen over the past few weeks (evidenced by how many times the husband thanked me PROFUSELY for cooking last night!), but was inspired last night to break in our lovely new le crueset wedding dutch oven, and whip up an unlikely summer dinner -- a hearty ragu pasta sauce. This dish has been a staple of my mom's for as long as I can remember, and come to think of it, I have NO IDEA where she picked it up! I'll have to find out how my little asian momma, living in redneck, podunk, hicksville -- learned to make a mean (and fairly traditional, I've come to find out) pasta sauce. Although eating it over steamed white rice, as I did to my husband's consternation, is a bit less conventional.
In a large stockpot / dutch oven, saute 1 diced onion and 4 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil over medium heat.
Add 1/2 lb of ground chuck and 1/2 lb of ground pork, breaking up with a spoon.
Season with salt/pepper, and whatever italian-esque spices you might have in the cupboard. (I used red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, thyme and basil -- about 3/4 - 1 tsp each.)
Brown for a few minutes, then add 1 diced carrot and 1 diced stalk of celery. (I also had some crimini mushrooms in the fridge, so threw those in too.)
Cook for a few more minutes, then add 2 jars of marinara sauce. (Two of the largish cans of plum tomatoes chopped up work well too -- whatever you have on hand).
Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar if you like your sauce a little sweeter.
Cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve over spaghetti, penne or any shaped pasta that will hold up well to a thick sauce.
Tastes even better the next day, and freezes like a dream.