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May 19, 2009 08:10 AM

Help w/ a "Pink Meat Sauce"

My sister-in-law has asked me to cook her dinner for her birthday. She has requested "Pink Meat Sauce" with pasta and "a vegetable". (She is 37, by the way - this isn't a meal for a kid.) Anyway, I was thinking bolognese, but then she sent me a recipe for Penne with Vodka Sauce and said to just add ground beef to it. Does anyone know if this will work? Do you have recommendations for another recipe? She wanted me to make a roasted beet recipe to go with it, but I haven't found good beets yet near me, so I'm thinking of just making broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic. Any other ideas? It has to be portable as we have to pack it all up and take it on the bus for 2 hours to get to her parent's house for the dinner.


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  1. Anything is portable. Just get a cooler, or shop when you get there, or cook when you get there.

    7 Replies
    1. re: SQHD

      I cannot shop or cook when I get there as my mother in law will not allow it. She will want to take over if I try to do anything in her kitchen. And since I have to ride a bus for 2 hours, I was trying to make the point that I wanted something relatively small / easy to carry, as opposed to, say, 12 artichokes or something, which is technically portable, but which I would not want to carry.

      1. re: jenhen2

        Oh dear. Are you allowed to heat up the meat sauce?

        1. re: MMRuth

          No kidding - sounds like a wonderful night. And how exactly are you cooking the pasta? Mmm... nothing like 2+ hour old pasta with cold meat sauce. Sounds like my college days.

          How many people? Are you just going to toss the whole pre-cooked thing in the microwave? I think it would be quite difficult to transport a vat of cooked spaghetti and meat sauce in a bus for 2 hours, and then to have pre-cooked side dishes to carry along as well?

          1. re: SQHD

            I am leaving the buying, boiling and draining of the pasta to my mother in law. She will also heat the sauce on the stove top, so that should be okay. She's very sweet, she's just really particular and set in her ways about some things, cooking being one of them. Anyway, I think I'll go with the vodka sauce with ground meat - I guess I'll just brown the meat, then pour off the fat and saute the onions / make the sauce then add the meat back in. Sounds like it should be fine, right? Any thoughts on type of ground meat? Veal might be a bit much, but sirloin? Chuck? I don't know much about "meat sauces". Thanks all!

            1. re: jenhen2

              "Good Eats" just did a long simmered meat sauce on the newest episode if you're interested. It goes over all the aspects from meat choice to grind, to cooking technique.


              Combine some of these ideas with a vodka sauce recipe and you should do fine.

              1. re: jenhen2

                I'd be inclined to go with ground chuck. Good luck with this!

                1. re: jenhen2

                  Veal is very mild - don't use it for this sauce unless it's in combination with other meats. I agree with MMRuth that ground chuck is best. You can make a sauce pink with cream, ricotta, or cream sheese added to a standard tomato sauce. One restaurant near me offers frutti di mare with a choice of red or alfredo sauce - I ask them to combine the two, which makes a very nice pink sauce.

        2. When I read the title of your post, I thought immediately of either a meat sauce with cream added to it (which you could do at her parents' house), or a vodka sauce with ground meat.

          1. You can certainly add ground beef - cooked separately - to the voda sauce recipe. Put it in a LARGE zip top bag; and then another for transport.

            You can also pre-cook the pasta, spread it on a baking sheet to cool; then package in double zip top bags. When you get there, heat a pot of water to a boil and drop the pasta in for 2 minutes to heat through.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KiltedCook

              Pre-cooking pasta is not a good idea if your only way to heat it up is to drop it back into boiling water. Seriously who would do that?!!?! The inconveneice is staggering. You're wasting so much time, energy, water, and quality.

              If you have to boil more water to reheat the pasta, how about you just bring uncooked pasta and boil it fresh when you're there. We're talking about a difference of maybe 4-6 minutes to boil "fresh" as opposed to reheating.

              The inconvenience of having to boil the water, toss in the pasta, drain it, cool it, pack it, boil more water when you get there, toss in the pasta, drain it, then dress it is ridiculous.

              As it is, this post doesn't have much guidance from the original poster.

            2. If you haven't already decided and are looking for something easily transportable, baked penne w/ ricotta cheese is easy to do and pink. You just make your tomato sauce (vodka sauce would work, or any tomato based sauce that you might use in lasagne) and add ricotta cheese. Mix with penne, bake there or you can do it at home if you have a pyrex portable. I use it far more often than I thought I would, for cold or hot. Easy to carry. If it's hot, I gently layer paper towels on top.


              1. If your sister inlaw is asking you to make a meal and you live 2 hours away by bus. She should offer you a kitchen to use. She should make arrangements with mom to give you fre ereign of the kitchen to prepare the prescribed meal. HAve her to your home.