This is for you MariAnne! MariAnne is a fellow soccer mom who asked for my spaghetti sauce recipe after her son ate over and told her “it was the best spaghetti he’d ever had”. The fact is when she told me her son had complimented my “sauce” and asked me for the recipe I was dumb founded, because the truth is I really don’t have a recipe…..or didn’t. I always just throw my sauce together, doing alot of tasting along the way.
So since then I set out to figure out just how is it that I make my “sauce”. It’s taken me a couple times of making it, taking notes each time. I found that it comes down to is the cooking time. The longer you cook it the thicker and richer the sauce. You can cook this sauce for as little as 1/2 hour and as long as…..well as long as you want really. Most of the time when I make sauce it is in under an hour. When I cook it longer I season a bit differently, not necessarily more or less, I just spread out the seasoning. Half in the beginning and the other half near the end. Just a few ingredients to chop and a few cans to open, it’s really easy. So with out further ado….
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion diced (approximately 1 cup give or take)
1 heaping tablespoon of McCormick Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried Basil (I prefer the Lighthouse Freeze Dried brand)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1. Saute onion and garlic in a 6 quart saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of salt, continue to cook until caramelizing starts. Add ground beef, and cook, chopping beef up with spatula to break it up as it browns.
2. When beef is completely browned add tomato paste, stir, fill can with water, add to pan. Add the diced and pureed cans of tomatoes, stir to blend.
3. Now season: add sugar, Italian seasoning, basil, crushed red pepper flakes(feel free to add more if you like spicy). Simmer for at least 1/2 hour.
**Crock Pot version: brown meat with onions and garlic put in crock pot with all the other ingredients and cook on high for 4-5 hours medium/low heat for 8. Stir occasionally if you have time.
1/2 hour of cooking
One hour of cooking, it’s getting thicker….stick to your ribser.
This is after about 2 hours of cooking it over very low heat, stirring now and again. Dip your bread in THAT and eat it!
This sauce is so versatile. My kiddos actually prefer it with out meat. And if you are into mushrooms, which I am, but my family not so much, then slice up some mushrooms and add them in when cooking the onion and garlic. Want to hide some vegi’s in there….GO FOR IT, shredded carrots go undetected in this sauce if you are cooking it for a longer time period.
No good sauce can be made with out tasting it along the way.
If you prefer more basil then by all means add more or less.
If you don’t like spicy at all, then leave out the red pepper flakes.
If you are feeling sassy add a 3/4 cup of Merlot or Cabernet….VAvaVAVoom!
I always warn BE CAREFUL of too much SALT. You can always salt your food on the table. I would suggest sticking to my salt measurements.
ONE MORE NOTE: Sometimes I double up this recipe and make it in a really big pan. Then I freeze it in containers for days when I need a quick meal, or for sharing a meal with someone. This is also my lasagna sauce and my sauce for Mostaccoli.