My husband making homemade pasta sauce on the weekends has become a staple in our house. It’s hard to remember what it was like before he made his pork ragu. If you’re looking for a way to up your pasta game, this is it.
I have always enjoyed cooking (and still do) but since our daughter was been born, Caleb has really gotten into cooking and makes a large portion of our meals. His favorite dishes are homemade pot stickers, roasted jalapeno omelettes, pimento modia pork loin, and this sauce.
I’m confident in saying that it’s *almost* as good as eating at a trattoria in Italy. He has perfected the recipe over the last year and I think it’s high time to share this ridiculously easy way to make your own pasta sauce at home.
To make the sauce, you will need ground pork, carrots, celery, olive oil, an onion, salt and pepper, bay leaves, red wine, a Parmesan cheese rind, and passata. If your store doesn’t carry passata or is out of it (as in our case) strained tomatoes will work as well.
Get yourself a husband that cooks. Or make this yourself.
This is not a last-minute recipe. You will need to plan in advance as the sauce takes about 2 1/2 hours to cook once in the oven. But that is what makes it so good! After all the ingredients have sauteed in the cast iron, the sauce slowly cooks in a 300 degree oven until all the flavors have melded together.
Caleb tells me that the secret to making this sauce is 1) adding salt and pepper at a each incorporation stage and 2) the Parmesan cheese rind. If you’re not shredding your own Parmesan cheese, what…are you doing. It’s so much better than buying it pre-shredded, I promise! When you’re done with the chunk of Parmesan, save the rind wrapped up in the fridge for when you’re ready to make this sauce.
For this recipe we recommend using a wine from Tuscany, such as a Toscana, but anything that is mainly Sangiovese-based will work. You will need about 1/2 cup of wine for the recipe, but really, you just need to follow you heart on how much to put in since it’s hard to go wrong. Set aside the rest of the wine so you can enjoy it with the pasta later.
We have made all types of pasta with this sauce, from homemade pasta to your basic boxed pasta. Our favorite that we have found lately is the Garofalo brand at Costco. It definitely deserves a good quality pasta, whether bought or made at home.
When the pasta comes out of the oven, don’t freak out. For a minute you will think that you have ruined it and burned it beyond repair. (Hopefully you didn’t actually do that.) You want those slightly burned edges around the pan, just give it a stir to combine all the goodness together.
Top the pasta with some shredded Parmesan cheese and basil and pair with a green salad. Pour yourself a glass of that Tuscan wine you opened from the sauce — that is, if you didn’t drink the rest of it in the 2 1/2 hours the sauce was cooking. In which case, open a second bottle and enjoy!
A ridiculously easy recipe created by my husband Caleb to make your own excellent Tuscan ragu at home. You won’t want to buy jarred pasta sauce ever again!
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 bottle passata sauce, or 26 oz strained tomatoes
- 1/2 cup red wine, preferably from Tuscany (Sangiovese grape)
- 1 large onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 – 3 celery stalks
- 5 bay leaves
- Parmesan cheese rind
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pasta (to serve with the sauce)
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Get out a 10 in cast iron skillet (or large dutch oven) and set on the stove.
- Next, get out your food processor for the vegetables. Cut the onion into quarters. Cut the ends of the carrots and celery and cut into thirds. Put the vegetables into the food processor and process until they are finely minced.
- Turn the heat on the cast iron to medium low. Pour enough olive oil into the cast iron to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1/4 cup). When heated, use a spatula to scrape the vegetables from the food processor into the pan. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until they have cooked down. Add a few grinds of salt and pepper.
- Make a well in the vegetables and empty the ground pork into the pan. Mix together and brown the pork for about 6-7 minutes. Add a couple more grinds of salt and pepper.
- Pour in the passata (or strained tomatoes), mix together, and add more salt and pepper. Add in the wine (use your judgment, but it’s about 1/2 cup) and stir. Put in the 5 bay leaves and Parmesan rind and cover them in the sauce.
- Carefully place your cast iron into the oven. Cook the sauce for about 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove the cast iron from the oven, and take out the Parmesan rind and the bay leaves and discard.
- Caleb recommends serving this with a high quality pasta, your own homemade pasta, or zuchini spirals for a healthy alternative.
- After we cook the pasta, we like to add the sauce to the pasta in a big pot and stir together. Top with basil and Parmesan cheese.
If you do not have a cast iron, you could use a large Dutch oven, or some other oven-safe pot. You can mince up the veggies yourself if you do not have a food processor.