The answer to an Italian bolognese, a Greek meat sauce is different in the sense of flavors.
Text And Photo By Pam Kanavos
“Macaronia me kima” (pronounced ma ka RO nia me kee MAH) is a classic Greek dish of pasta and meat sauce. Similar to an Italian bolognese, but different in the sense of flavors. There are no carrots or celery being used, and traditional Greek flavors of cinnamon, allspice and cloves are added.
Meat sauce in Greece is referred to as kima (kee-MAH), which is also the word for ground beef. It’s thicker and more like chili in its consistency than a typical Italian bolognese sauce. Tacos, meaty mac and cheese, even chilli, or any dish that calls for classic braised ground meat can be recreate with this sauce. It is a very versatile sauce and, it’s very easy to make. You only need 10 minutes to prep and then the sauce cooks itself. Just remember to start the pasta about 10 minutes before the kima is done. Once strained, throw the past right in the sauce. Voila! There you have it, makaronia me kima.
It seems that every Greek cook puts his or her own personal spin on this traditional favorite. That is the beauty of this recipe; it can be adapted to your own personal taste and it will quickly become a favorite in your family. Here is my family’s favorite version on this traditional dish.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ¼ cup red wine
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2-3 berries of allspices (or a nice pinch of ground)
- Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ tbsp. butter
- 1 lb. pasta
- Grated Mizithra or Kefalotyri cheese
- In a 4-quart saucepan, add oil and brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until all pink color disappears.
- Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the wine and allow it to simmer a minute or two before adding the next ingredients.
- Add, cinnamon, allspice, cloves (if using), salt, pepper, sugar, tomato sauce and water. Bring the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be meat with some juice.
- Add the parsley and ½ tbsp. butter. (The flavors of the sauce will develop the longer if it sits, and it's sometimes even better the second day after you make it.)
- Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Serve pasta with meat sauce topping and don't forget the grated cheese.
- Note: If you cant find Mizithra or Kefalotyri cheese, substitute with Pecorino Roman or Parmesan Cheese