Spaghetti and Meat Sauce - Alton Brown

Total Time
5hrs 50mins
Prep
20 mins
Cook
5 hrs 30 mins

Taken from Brown's _Good Eats_ episode "American Classics: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce." He insists on freshly ground meat from whole cuts, so you know exactly what you're getting; he has the butcher grind it for him, but you can do it yourself if you have the equipment. Be sure to use a WHITE wine for the sweetness and bright acidity; a red will tend to get astringent with this kind of cooking.

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. Set an 8 qt cast iron Dutch oven over low heat and add the bacon. Cook until the fat renders and the bacon is crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.
  2. Add onion, salt and pepper to fat in pot. Place star anise and cloves in a small cotton spice bag (or wrap in cheesecloth); lay the flat of a chef's knife across the spices and smash your fist on the blade to crack them (or use a mallet). Add the spice bag to the pot as well. Cook over low heat until onions break down and caramelize, about 45 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Place a 4 qt saute pan over high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. When oil begins to emit wisps of smoke, add beef and pork. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes until the meat is brown and broken into small chunks. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl. Return the saute pan to the high heat.
  4. Deglaze saute pan with 1/2 cup white wine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When wine has reduced by half, turn off the heat.
  5. When onions are mahogany brown, add celery and minced garlic. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until intensely fragrant. Remove and discard the spice bag.
  6. Add the meat and reduced wine to Dutch oven. Add another 1/2 cup white wine, evaporated milk and beef broth. Add porcinis. Cook very slowly over low heat, covered, for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  7. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to saute pan and heat until shimmering over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and saute until fragrant, 30-45 seconds. Add tomatoes (with any juice in the cans), along with oregano, marjoram and basil. Cook over medium heat until most of the liquid evaporates, 25-30 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to low and add tomato paste, ketchup, sherry vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup white wine. Simmer 30 minutes.
  9. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to tomatoes and turn heat up to medium high. Stir vigorously and constantly for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes to meat mixture. Continue to simmer over low heat, uncovered, while preparing pasta.
  10. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a deep, narrow pot. Add salt. Add spaghetti when water is at a rolling boil. Stir for a few minutes to minimize sticking, then reduce heat to keep a steady but not violent boil. Start checking after 5 minutes; the pasta should be not-quite al dente; there should still be a little crunch in the center. Drain the pasta and add to the meat sauce, along with parmesan cheese. Cook another 4-5 minutes until pasta is al dente.