3 pounds ground chuck
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, rough diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/2 pound Baby Bella mushrooms, rough chopped
1 can Contadina tomato paste
12 oz. size 3-tomato paste cans full of chicken broth*
2 teaspoon Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry wine
1/4 cup parsley, minced
2 bay leaves
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
6 cups oiled pasta, cooked al dente
2 loaves hot crusted garlic bread

In a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, break up the ground meat and fry it down until it lightly browns, stirring it constantly as it cooks. When all of the red color is gone, take a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot, and set it aside in a colander so that the excess fat drains away.

In the meantime, in the same Dutch oven, heat the olive oil to sizzling and begin frying down the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. When they become fully wilted and semi-softened, spoon in the tomato paste and completely incorporate it into the seasoning vegetables.

Continue to stir the mix as it comes together to keep the tomato paste from scorching. Then when the mix is pasty-smooth, stir in the Sicilian seasoning, add the basil, and pour in the chicken stock and the sherry wine. Take time to uniformly combine everything into the paste and seasonings until a smooth sauce develops.

At this point, return the ground meat to the pot, along with the minced parsley, and stir everything together well. Then reduce the fire to low, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and gently simmer the meat sauce for about 45 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you desire. (If you want it thinner, add a little extra stock; if you want it thicker, cook it a little longer with the lid off the pot).

All that's left to do is to make final seasoning adjustments with the salt and black pepper before ladling it over a big plate of hot al dente spaghetti. For the crowning touch, generously top the sketti' and sauce with grated Parmesan cheese. And get ready to star 'sopping' with the hot garlic bread!!

Mangia, kids, mangia!


Chef's Notes:

Remove whatever fat renders out of the sauteed ground meat before proceeding with the meat sauce. The addition of the olive oil in the sauteing process will produce smoother, sweeter, and less greasy gravy.

You can use either canned chicken broth or make your own with dry chicken base.

Regardless of what you may have been told previously, don't add any sugar to the gravy. If you do the sauce right it will be naturally sweet and it won't be acidic.

Keep an eye on the height of the flame under the Dutch ovens as the meat sauce cooks. A fire too high will cause the delicateness to be lost and, in some cases, even burn the gravy. A sure fire way of completely avoiding this and freeing up the cook for other things is. . .one you got the ingredients all put together, slide the Dutch oven into a 325 degree oven and let it bake for about an hour. Once in the oven, no stirring or mixing or even lifting the top off the pot to peek at the meat sauce is necessary!

Finally, buy only ground chuck, ground round, or ground sirloin for this meat sauce. Regular ground meat will produce oily gravy, even if it is skimmed after it cooks.

A good complimentary salad to accompany the meat sauce and sketti' can be made by tossing a bag of pre-washed and packaged salad fixins with a small jar of Sicilian Olive Salad Mix. Oh and save a little of the Parmesan cheese for sprinkling over this, too!