Venison Spaghetti Sauce

This is an Italian meat sauce suitable for spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, whatever. It uses an “Equalizer” technique I stumbled upon by accident. I doubt I actually invented it — I’m sure it’s just a riff on a long-known technique. But I have never seen it anywhere else.

Reducing a meat and tomato based sauce slowly over low heat brings out deep “Basso profundo” flavors but diminishes the brighter, fresher notes of the tomato. Reserving a significant portion of the sauce un-reduced to return near the end restores the “treble” flavors back into the mix without muting the “bass”.

I discovered this trick when making sauce for two large lasagnas using a too-small pot cooking away from home. I was forced to set some aside. Rather than waste it I figured why not add it at the end. The result was a thrilling surprise. Returning the lightly cooked sauce near the end restored the bright flavors without masking the deeper ones. It’s like turning up both the bass and the treble on your stereo, thus “Equalizer”.

Make a big batch! A couple of days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer will do the sauce no harm at all.

Print Recipe
Equalized Italian venison meat sauce Yum
Suitable for lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli or ???.

The baseline amounts are calibrated to produce enough sauce for one lasagna made in a standard 3 quart lasagna pan — It does NOT make 3 quarts of sauce.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
quart pan
Herbs (if using fresh, reserve until final 10 minutes, except Rosemary, which you chop fine)
Other Stuff
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
quart pan
Herbs (if using fresh, reserve until final 10 minutes, except Rosemary, which you chop fine)
Other Stuff
  1. Mix meats together, form into wide thin patties and brown well in hot skillet. Chop patties into small chunks and set aside.
  2. If there is much liquid left behind separate it and either discard the fat or return it to the pan. Reserve the remaining liquid.
  3. add oil to skillet and slowly saute the onion and garlic for 2 or 3 minutes
  4. Add the tomato paste and mix with the onion and garlic. Heat for a few minutes
  5. Deglaze with just enough of the red wine to do the job.
  6. Add all remaining tomato ingredients. If using stewed, optionally first snip the large chunks into smaller chunks with kitchen shears.
  7. Simmer 10 minutes then remove 1/3 of sauce and set aside to cool a bit, then stage in the fridge while the main batch reduces.
  8. Return browned ground meat to skillet.
  9. Add the salt, sugar and ground pepper, and all remaining herbs and spices (except fresh herbs reserved till end) and bring to a simmer.
  10. Add any remaining liquids.
  11. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently (every 5 minutes or so - I set a timer every time to remind myself) until reduced to a good thickness. It takes a while. It goes fastest if you have a nice wide, shallow skillet or saute pan. When reducing anything, surface area is your friend. You can speed things up with more heat, but if it's hotter than a slow simmer you'll need to stir constantly.
  12. NOTE ON SAUCE TEXTURE: If you plan to use this sauce on fresh or "ready to bake" pasta (noodles you don't boil) the sauce should be looser because the noodles will need to soak up some liquid. You can stop reducing earlier, while it is still fairly loose, or add liquid back after reducing using any combination of dry red wine, tomato juice, stock or water. If adding liquid back, bring the sauce back up to a simmer before continuing.
After the sauce is reduced:
  1. Mix in the parsley and any other reserved fresh herbs.
  2. Mix in the reserved 1/3rd sauce. Bring to a simmer, simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add salt/pepper as necessary.
Recipe Notes

Options: Add Roughly 1 Tbsp butter for each 6oz of tomato. Add a little olive oil to the sauce.

Tip: If mixing pasta and sauce together at the table or just before serving, reserve a ladle or two of the pasta water and mix it into the sauce just before serving. No need to do this for lasagna or any other baked casserole-style pasta dish. It helps the pasta and sauce bond a bit better.
If you can, mix in a ladle or two of your pasta water at the end.

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