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The other day it was time to go through the freezer and use up stuff. I found a package of ground veal and thought “what am I going to do with this?” Meatballs? No, not really. Spaghetti? Nope…lightening stikes; I know, we haven’t had polenta for a while, so how about a ragu to put on top of said polenta? Yup, that works. It did! If you don’t feel up to making the drop dead easy tomato herb sauce, you could use a 700 ml jar of tomato pasta sauce with basil. Somehow, I always have tinned Italian tomatoes in my pantry and it takes me, maybe 10 minutes to make the sauce. Often, I make a big batch of the sauce, divide it up and store in the freezer. It’s handy for so many things and makes a great, quick spaghetti dinner!
1 – 2 Tbsp. EVO
½ lb. lean ground veal or beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups sliced brown mushrooms
¼ cup dry red wine
1 batch (3 cups) Phyllis’ Tomato Sauce With Herbs** using 32 oz. canned tomatoes, chili flakes but not anchovies
1 Tbsp. fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley + extra for garnish
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Polenta: see link to Polenta With Fontina And Thyme below**
Make the Ragu:
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the EVO) over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chopped onions & sauté until soft & translucent; add the garlic & stir for a minute, until fragrant. Add the ground veal, turn the heat up to medium-high & sauté until it is browned, breaking up lumps with a fork. Add the mushrooms & parsley & sauté until mushrooms are softened. Add the red wine, tomato sauce with herbs, basil & sugar, stirring to combine. Turn the heat down to low, cover & simmer for 20 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Keep warm while making the polenta. Or you can make the polenta while the sauce is simmering. The sauce should be on the thicker side, not runny, it is appears too thin, leave the lid off and simmer a bit longer.
Spoon some polenta onto warm plates or bowls & top with the ragu, a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano & additional chopped parsley.
Note: This is an excellent way to use leftover polenta that has been placed an oiled glass dish & allowed to firm up; cut into serving size pieces then simply sauté in some EVOO until lightly golden on each side, place in a preheated 350 F oven for 10 minutes until hot.
**To make the tomato sauce, please go to Tomato Sauce With Herbs.
**To make the polenta, please go to Polenta With Fontina And Thyme.