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Tuscan Meat Sauce
From The Saucier's Apprentice, by Bob Spitz


3 or 4 stalks celery with their tops
3 red onions, cut in quarters
5 carrots
1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
8 bay leaves
3-1/2 lbs ground beef and pork
2 cups fruity red wine
2-1/2 Tbsp tomato paste


Cut the celery, onions, and carrots into chunks and grind them together in a food processor, pulsing just until coarsely chopped. Sauté the vegetable mixture (what Italians call the soffritto) in the olive oil over medium heat, adding the bay leaves after it softens a bit. Cook the soffritto a long time – almost a half hour – and vigorously, stirring regularly until the vegetables brown. Add the ground beef and pork and salt well. As soon as the meat loses its pink color, add the wine all at once. Cook at a boil until the wine evaporates. Lower the heat considerably. Add the tomato paste and enough water to keep the sauce moist. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 to 3 hours uncovered, adding more water as necessary. Taste, and correct the seasoning. Remove and discard bay leaves. When the sauce is finished, it should be brown, not red.

Yield: Serves a crowd

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