Pasta with Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound Italian sausage, hot or mild or a mixture, cut into coins or crumbled
1 pound ground beef
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 stick cinnamon, if you have one
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, if you have them
2 teaspoons dried basil, if you have them
1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole or crushed tomatoes
1 big glug of red wine, if there is some to hand
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried pasta of your choice
1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, if you have them
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Set a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and swirl into it the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, 30 seconds or so, then add the sausage and beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat has browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off excess fat if you like, but I really never do.

Use a spoon to clear a space in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste, stirring to break it up. Then add the cinnamon, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and dried basil, if you’re using any of those. Stir to combine, then add the tomatoes, along with the wine. Add a spray of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Lower the heat under the pan and allow the mixture to simmer quietly for 30 minutes or more, then cook the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Garnish with the fresh basil and serve alongside the Parmesan. We made it.

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