Confirm Party Guests and Cafe Mingo’s Sugo di Carne

Are you looking for a recipe to wow your New Year’s Eve crowd? Try this Sugo di Carne pasta dish, with fantastic flavor, plus tips on confirming party guests!

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

We’re hosting several dinner parties this week, and because it’s winter and the holidays, it’s the season for guests to cancel dinner invitations. Whether they are just pooped, sick, want to stay home, not feeling social–as a hostess I know it happens, so I like to be prepared!

Confirm party guests.

My holiday entertaining tip for dinner parties is for me to confirm with my guests 24 hours before the party begins. Why? It just gives me peace of mind, because I’m a planner! A friendly e-mail reminder, text, or phone call helps those with hectic & busy schedules. It also helps the hostess to adjust the amount of food being served.

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

Party reminders.

For a New Year’s Eve party this year (learn more about the above dishes, here), here are a few party reminders that help me as a hostess:

Plan a simple menu. I’ll be serving one of our favorite dishes, a specialty dish from Cafe Mingo in Portalnd, Oregon, called penne al sugo di carne. More than do-able—a breeze!

Clean as you go. If you feel the need to clean your house, get it done the day before, and then on the “day of,” pick up and clean as you go. Last minute cleaning causes you to go into panic mode and takes away the joy of hospitality.

Cancellations. Be forgiving when someone needs to cancel, as the holidays are stressful for everyone. Some people overcommit, and then back out at the last minute. Come up with a Plan B in your mind, in case this happens!

Smile. YOU make the party better by your smile, warmth, kindness, personality, etc. Those things cannot be bought & are better than any of the finest foods & decor.

Now for this delicious recipe.

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

Cafe Mingo’s Sugo di Carne.

When you mention Italian (or Sunday sauce) meat sauce, most people will immediately think of those monuments of Italian cooking, the ragù alla napoletana and the ragù alla bolognese, sauces that require hours of cooking and fairly elaborate preparation. Like this dish today, these time-consuming ragù are often reserved for special occasions. Ragù alla napoletana is an expression from back in the days when the main event of every Sunday was a grand, multi-course meal. So for Paul and me, hosting a special dinner party, this was the perfect meal to serve this week.

Only 6 ingredients in the sauce.

What I love about this recipe today is it is a far simpler meat sauce (only 6 ingredients) that may not exactly be fast food, but it certainly takes far less time and effort than a traditional recipe.

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

All you need is some chopped meat, some canned tomatoes, lots of onions and butter, and plenty of wine. Oh, and about 2 hours to spare, most of which can be spent away from the stove.

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

My favorite cut is beef top round roast (boneless) which is usually less costly than beef bottom round, and to my taste is more tender and savory. Oh, and how did I forget to mention espresso? We only use Storyville Coffee beans, so making 2 cups of rich, dark, robust espresso just makes the sauce even better.

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

After you braise the meat you blend or mill the sauce. Secret to blending hot stuff? Never put the lid on the blender. Hold a paper towel over the top and blend on “low.” That way it won’t explode! (I’ve done this too many times with hot soups.)

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

Make sauce 3 days in advance.

Espresso braised beef pasta. Doesn’t it sound delightful? Make this recipe up 3 days in advance and let the flavors steep! But … making it in advance is not a requirement. It tastes just fine making it the day of a dinner party!

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

I think your guests or family will love this dish, so please, come back and tell me all about it. My One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs recipe is my most popular recipe of 2014 on RE (100,000+ pins on Pinterest), and I love all the comments from readers, so if you love this easy dish, I want to hear all about it.

Oh, and I’ll be doubling the recipe this time because we’re serving it to quite a few dinner party guests on NYE!

What’s your go-to pasta dish to cook for a large crowd?

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

Cafe Mingo's Sugo di Carne

Recipe from Cafe Mingo’s restaurant, downtown Portland, Oregon. Amazing pasta sauce that feeds a crowd!

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 5-pound beef bottom round, cut into 2 inch cubes (beef top round roast is another option!)
3 red onions, halved, thinly sliced
1 750ml bottle Chianti or other fruity wine
1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes with juice
1 cup brewed espresso
2 pounds penne (I use DeLallo)
Parmesean cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook beef until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to large bowl. (Use 1 stick of butter, divided with the batches of meat).

Reduce heat to medium. Add the other stick of butter to pot and melt. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine, tomatoes with juice, and espresso. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Braise beef until tender, about 2 hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl and with 2 forks, shred the beef.

Take the juices and puree in blender (I use my Vitamix) or run through a food mill. Add the meat the milled sauce.

Return beef to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pasta: Cook in pot of salted boiling water until tender but still firm to bite. Use a pasta with ridges to adhere to sauce. Divide pasta among 12 shallow bowls, spoon meat sauce over, and serve, or serve in one large bowl.

Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.

All images and text ©

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17 comments on “Confirm Party Guests and Cafe Mingo’s Sugo di Carne”

  1. oh my YUM! Pinning this for sure! AND I’ll have to find that restaurant on one of my trips to portland!

    I love making my 4 cheese fettucini with additional toppings.

  2. Am I the only one who doesn’t know why you shouldn’t put the lid on the blender? Lol.

    • Turner, I added this: After you braise the meat you blend or mill the sauce. Secret to blending hot stuff? Never put the lid on the blender. Hold a paper towel over the top and blend on “low.” That way it won’t explode! (I’ve done this too many times with hot soups.)

  3. This would definitely wow party guests, DELICIOUS!!!

  4. Looks very good and perfect for a group. Can you tell us how best to rewarm if made ahead and chilled? How about making the meat part ahead and chilling and reheating and cooking pasta just before serving? But again, how do you reheat the completed dish?
    Thanks.

  5. Perfectly wonderful entertaining tips! I could have used those when I hosted a last minute party a couple weeks ago! And this carne is mui amazing!

  6. My family would love this and what a great dish for entertaining!

  7. Sandy,

    We’re new to Portland, so I look forward to trying Cafe Mingo! I hope the New Year brings you and your family lots of joy.

  8. Sounds delicious! I can’t figure out where all the butter is used. I only see 6 TBSP. used… When is more butter used? Thanks

  9. Two questions: The meat braises for two hours at 400 degrees? That seems very hot. Also, one stick of butter would seem to do it, not two. We went to Mingo for lunch today, and this is what I ordered. It was really delicious, and I look forward to making it at home. Thank you.

    • Yes, that temp is right, Michael. And you can try less butter, but my recipe is superb! Good luck! PS. We love that restaurant so much in Portland! :)

  10. Thanks for the response! So where is the extra butter used? There’s 1 TB and then 5 TB later on. How is the remainder used? I’m figuring one stick of butter equals 8 TBs. Thanks for publishing this recipe.
    Mike

  11. Have had it at cafe mingo and loved it! Am making it now and the espresso is overwhelming! Haven’t finished yet, but am panicking after tasting on the stove. Maybe braising will mellow the flavor? Right now I want to cry!

  12. Thanks for responding! You were right!? It is fantastic! I love your website. I have many of your ideas on my Pinterest boards,
    Thanks!
    Billi

  13. We live close to both Mingo locations in Portland and love this dish.  I got take out Sugo for my wife the night she gave birth to our daughter Maxine!  
     I made the recipe today and we enjoyed the results immensely (daughter, son, wife and myself). I found that only one stick of butter was plenty (alas we had only 4 lbs of beef, and used two very large white onions).  I let the sauce cool and separated the beef and used an immersion blender…and then brought them together on simmer for an hour.  
    Very nice!!

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