Steve’s Famous Sauce

About a year ago, Steve Bray of Fossil gave me his recipe for Chianti spaghetti sauce and I was so excited to try it. But a long time had gone by and I still had not made it. Every time I bumped into Steve somewhere, he’d ask me “Have you made the spaghetti yet?” Sheepishly, I would admit “nooooo”. I could not even think of a good excuse as to why not. Last week, Steve invited me to have dinner with him and his wife Ellie. Then, I could get an in-person “how to make Chianti spaghetti sauce” lesson. I looked forward to an evening of good food and good conversation. That’s what I call being “at table”. To me, being at table with friends and family is the spice of life.

We were set to start cooking at 3:00 in the afternoon. I was thankful for my spaghetti making lesson. Steve assembled the ingredients in a certain way. I would have missed out if he had not shown me. This goes to demonstrate that the cooking method is as important as the ingredients.

Chianti Spaghetti

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk celery
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
2 tsp minced garlic
½ lb ground beef
½ lb mild Italian sausage – not too hot or sweet
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 jars Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce, 24 ounces
½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
½ cup Chianti wine
⅓ cup water
Spaghetti noodles, one pound

Dice the onions and celery. Heat the oil in a big, heavy sauce pan. Sauté the celery for about five minutes, then add the onions. Add the crushed fennel seeds, then the garlic. When both the celery and onions are translucent, add the sausage and ground beef. After the meat has browned, take a pastry cutter and break up the meat until it is the size of peas. Add the sauce, the wine, Italian herbs, and sugar. Simmer the sauce covered slowly, for up to four hours. Steve uses an enameled cast iron Dutch oven and the sauce barely bubbled away. Stir occasionally – if it’s getting too thick add some more water. You will know it’s done when the celery and onions have dissolved into the sauce. Steve prefers Ragu traditional sauce, not the other flavors. Cook the pasta in salted water. Do not add oil to the water, or the pasta, or rinse the pasta, because then the sauce will not stick to it. When the noodles are done, drain and add the sauce and give it a good stir. The sauce is better after it melds for a day. And there you have it – Steve’s tried and true recipe for Chianti spaghetti sauce.