This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It’s virtually the same recipe as her original but I make a huge batch; it cooks ALL day and freezes great, so you might as well just make it once a season and freeze it.
This recipe calls for white wine which makes the sauce surprisingly light considering all of the rich ingredients, but I’ve made it with red and that works equally well. It’s just means a bit richer of a sauce.
I like this over fettuccine or good old fashioned spaghetti.
6 Tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrot
3 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper
1 quart whole milk
pinch of nutmeg
1 750 ml bottle white or red wine
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes in their juice, crushed by hand
Melt butter in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven and saute onion until translucent. Add celery and carrot, cook for 2 minutes until well coated.
Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. This could take up to an hour. Add a pinch of nutmeg and stir.
Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated. This could take up to an hour. Then add the tomatoes and stir until thoroughly combined. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time.
Toss a couple of cups of sauce with a pound of cooked pasta and serve.