Rachael Ray’s Christmas Pasta


  • 1/4 pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pound combined ground beef, pork and veal
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup good-quality dry red wine
  • 1 cup prepared beef stock, paper container or canned
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
  • Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon (a couple of pinches) allspice or cinnamon
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 pounds penne rigate, cooked al dente
  • Grated Pecorino Romano, as an accompaniment
  • Fresh, crusty bread, for mopping

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and brown to render the fat. Transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. To the pan add the oil and the meats;  brown and crumble them for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pancetta bits.

  • 2

    Chop carrot, celery, and onions near the stove and add to the pot as you work. Cook vegetables with meat 5 minutes and add wine. Cook for 1 minute; add stock and tomatoes to the pot.

  • 3

    Stir in parsley, allspice, or cinnamon and season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, minimum, before serving. Reheated sauce only improves.

  • 4

    Toss pasta (cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time: half a pound for every 3 people) with a couple of ladles of sauce to coat, then top bowl with extra sauce. Top pasta with lots of cheese and pass bread at the table.

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