"This is the meal my crowd eats on our first night of arrival in a new place with old friends, extended family, anywhere a lot of people have gathered to be together for holidays, graduations, weddings, adventure trips, weekend getaways, and funerals alike. As you'll see from the instruction below, it's not so much a recipe as an idea: browned Italian sausage and beef in a deep-red tomato sauce that you can make fiery with red pepper flakes or scent with cinnamon or both. Somethings I make it with sausage alone. Sometimes I add wine, if there's wine around. You can really do to it whatever you like. It's a welcoming dish. Serve mixed into pasta in a big, warm bowl, with garlic bread." —Sam Sifton
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.