Mad Men Inspired Linguini and Meat Sauce

Mad Men Inspired Linguini and Meat Sauce

*Originally posted on our old food blog on April 26, 2015, a little throwback to a Joe and Michelle Sunday Nite Supper recipe!*


When I think of the food we see on Mad Men I think of Beef Wellington, Don’s midnight eggs with corned beef hash, Oysters Rockefeller…. and Megan Draper’s terrible spaghetti.

Seriously, I am still trying to figure out what the heck was up with that. She made it for the kids, she threw it against the wall, and it was always dry and sauce-less.


Sad, sauceless Megan draper pasta…. ew.

Sad, sauceless Megan draper pasta…. ew.

“Sit down and eat your spaghetti.” Why on earth would she put anyone through some dry, sticky, flavorless noodles out of a box? And why didn’t anyone say anything to her about it? (Maybe Megan Draper was one of my least favorite characters…but alas.)  These are all things I think about.

We decided that no Mad Men inspired menu would be complete without Megan’s Spaghetti — or at least a version of it that we could live with!

So here here a pasta dish we wish that Megan Draper would have made, or could have made — if she knew how to cook.

Mad Men Inspired Linguini and Meat Sauce

(As always… buy Organic when you can!)

  1. Olive Oil
  2. 1/2 lb Grass Fed Organic Beef
  3. 1 medium onion
  4. 5 cloves garlic
  5. 1 stalk celery
  6. 1 medium carrot
  7. 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  8. 2 T tomato paste
  9. 1-2 cups red wine (always make sure it’s a wine you would drink!)
  10. Spices (Garlic powder, Onion Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Oregano, Basil, Thyme)
  11.  Kosher Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper
  12. Fresh Basil
  13. Pasta (preferably homemade/freshly made with minimal ingredients)


Before I begin to cook, I remind myself that I live in Manhattan and my kitchen is the size of a small jewelry box with crappy lighting. Prepping all ingredients ahead of time will always save time and a lot of headaches!


1.  Place large pot or dutch oven over a medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then onions. Stir until fragrant. Proceed to add celery, carrot, and garlic. Season with a couple pinches of salt.

2. Add the beef and cook thoroughly.

3. Say hello to Oliver.

4. Deglaze the pot with the red wine of your choice. We chose a nice inexpensive but quality Chianti. I start with about 1 cup and then add accordingly. Red sauce is always to taste so keep a spoon handy!

5. Add tomato paste and stir thoroughly.

6. Add crushed tomatoes. I add a bit at a time and stop when I see that the sauce is at the consistency I like. Keep tasting as you go, adding more or less wine and tomatoes.

7. Add the spices a little at a time. I start with about a teaspoon of each. Keep tasting the sauce until you a nice balance. Feel free to add pinches of salt to enhance the flavor. But be careful as many crushed tomatoes come with added salt!

8. On the lowest heat possible, allow the meaty sauce to simmer. Stir and check on it often! I usually make a meatless red sauce and wasn’t used to the extra protein — a bit of it started to burn on the bottom of my dutch oven! So just check on it and you should be okay. Again, feel free to add some dashes of extra spices!

9. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, heat a pot of water. For goodness sake salt your water! Flavorless pasta is no bueno. We used Morgia’s homemade pasta from Watertown, New York. I prefer to use freshly made pastas in the refrigerated section of the market, but when making dried pasta I like to go for the ones with minimal ingredients. If the pasta box lists more than 5 ingredients that you cannot easily pronounce – yucky. Morgia’s Pasta has Durum Wheat Flour, Water, and Eggs. That’s it. Simple and awesome!

10. Plate and garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese! Serve with the leftover wine? Twist my arm…. 

Small Bites by Joe

Well, well, well, Michelle’s red sauce. One of the early dishes (not the first, that was cornish hens –our first weekend together in New York, and yes I remember) Michelle made for us was her red sauce, and it’s as glorious as it’s ever been.

With this edition of her sauce, I was catching the chianti and the red pepper flakes. The wine brought a little bite and the red pepper flakes a bit of spice. The key though to Michelle’s sauce is the mirepoix. This is the base of carrots, onions, and celery that provides great flavor. Michelle has explained to me that it is the base to many great sauces, and now whenever we watch the Food Network, or other cooking shows, I always recognize chefs starting with a mirepoix. And for you non-cooks out there like me, I used the term mirepoix at a work-sanctioned cooking event and received many a raised-eyebrow. It definitely impressed the teachers. I was proud. Thank you, Michelle.

A note as well about the pasta we used. If you can, always use fresh pasta. The fresh pasta is tender, delicate, and just plain tastes better than the dried pasta. Whenver Michelle and I can, we always pick up fresh pasta. Next up on our list – making our pasta at home. Ah, another post to salivate over!

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