This sauce takes a lot of time—it should simmer for four to five hours—but it does not require much skill or effort. Once the vegetables are chopped, all that's left to do is add ingredients and stir. This gives you plenty of time to shower, tidy up your house, and do whatever else you need to do to prepare for your dinner guest.

Servings: Makes 4 cups of sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots
  • 2 to 3 stalks celery
  • 1 ounce pancetta , very finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch allspice
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 pound pasta , such as rigatoni
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , for grating
  • Directions
    Finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat, cook pancetta until all fat is rendered and pancetta is just beginning to brown. Add chopped vegetables, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft.

    Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, 1/4 teaspoon (to start) salt, plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown.

    Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until milk has mostly boiled away, about 30 minutes. Add white wine and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice; bring to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Season to taste with remaining salt.

    Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously, and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce, then serve with remaining sauce on top with lots of grated Parmigiano cheese.


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