24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

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9 Responses
  1. Hannah says:

    I made this spaghetti sauce two nights ago, thanks for the recipe!! It was easy to make, and made my kitchen smell sooooo good. Thanks for making spaghetti sauce something special!

  2. monique says:

    This sounds great,never tried making it with wine!I agree with you on sauce from a jar.Not an option for a diabetic,way too much sugar along with the other garbage.

  3. monique says:

    I was at Costco on Wed and they had Old Spaghetti Factory brand Italian sausage for the mere price of $4.97 for a 3.5lb package.That’s only $1.42 a lb! Perfect excuse to make spaghetti.This was a good sauce,very hearty.Loved the wine in it,gave it a great taste!

  4. Chantal says:

    I think this is the recipe for next week’s class! I will have to omit the wine though, can’t have the kids telling their parents we are putting alcohol in their food! I have always drained my ground meat when cooking, AND I rinse it under hot water to remove almost all of the fat. Does not change the taste at all and saves on calories (that can be better spent on wine?!) This recipe has quite a bit of chopping to do (excellent, the kids love it!) so it will keep them busy and productive, and it does not need the toaster ovens, even better since they will be full of almond pies. I will let you know how it turns out.

  5. Chantal says:

    Hmmm, I did not know what to put instead of the wine so I had to skip the recipe for now. Since there is quite a bit, I did not just want to leave it out. Any suggestions on what to use? I ended up making sloppy joe’s with the ground beef and they turned out pretty good, and the almond pies were a hit (they are always surprised how easy my recipes are!) Until the next time,………cheers!

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