Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

 There was no one that made a better sauce than my mom. It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I ate at least twice a week. Mom’s sauce was always thick and rich. I remember she used Red Pack brand crushed tomatoes and tomato puree. She would combine both to make her sauce and it always came out thick and rich. Really stuck to the pasta.  If I ever ate someone else’s sauce I would always compare it to my mom’s. They never came close.

Over the years I’ve duplicated mom’s sauce, but over time, have developed my own. I use the same ingredients but I experiment with different brands of canned tomatoes. They really make a difference.  San Marzano tomatoes give you a sweeter sauce and less acidic. The most acidic canned tomatoes I’ve ever tasted is Tutto Rosso.  I stay away from them.  San Marzano tomatoes are a different variety from the usual Roma tomatoes. They are longer and thinner and have less seeds and thicker flesh. They do cost more than the regular canned tomatoes, but I think they are worth it. If you’re fortunate enough to can your own tomatoes, well, that in itself results into something different and delicious. 

I’ve been canning tomatoes for years and usually can a bushel that last me till the next year. I don’t use my own canned tomatoes for every sauce I make, other wise I would have to can at least two bushels. So I use them only for special occasions. For those of you who are interested in canning, I’ll post the process sometime in August, when the tomatoes are ripe.

This is a basic meat sauce my mom used to make. If you let it cook long enough it will get thick enough to eat in a sandwich. But for pasta, you want it a little thinner. For one can of tomatoes I find a 20 minute cook gives you the right thickness. Fresh basil makes a difference and using a good quality chopped chuck that is lean also tastes best. If you want to add a little more zing to the sauce, try adding a couple of Italian pork sausages without the casing to the ground beef. It adds another dimension to the flavor.


Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1  28 ounce can San Marzano Italian peeled tomatoes, pureed
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • grated Romano cheese

Heat a pan large enough to hold the sauce and cooked macaroni.

 Heat the olive oil and saute onions for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chopped beef and brown, breaking up into little pieces with your spoon.

Once the beef in browned add the wine. Cook down for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.

Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime cook the macaroni according to directions in salted water.

When the macaroni is cooked, drain and place in the simmering sauce. Toss well. Serve with plenty of grated Romano cheese. Want to try something special? Add a dollop of ricotta cheese to the top of this dish. Delicious!


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
This entry was posted in Beef, Pasta and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

  1. Karen says:

    Hello Peter, the next time you see your mother, KISS her for me!!! I made this last night for dinner and it was delicious!!! I can always count on you for making my kitchen smell awesome! Thank you again!

  2. Pingback: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce | cookingitaliancomfortfood

  3. Data Kitchen says:

    Awesome blog you haave here

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