Basic Spaghetti Sauce

Basic Spaghetti Sauce

2 medium onions, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
3 large cans tomato sauce
3 large cans tomato puree
2 small cans tomato paste
2 large cans San Marzano tomatoes – optional*
1 1/2 cups good red wine – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t put it in the sauce!
1 bunch fresh basil, washed, leafed, and roughly chopped – ONLY if in season
1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste

First thing’s first: This makes a LOT of sauce. As Italians, and plenty of other cultures, too, we don’t do things small. It’s taken me over 7 years to learn to cook for just 2 people without having enough food to feed 12 people. So don’t worry, this recipe can easily be cut in half. As I shared, the most important part of making scratch-made pasta sauce is that YOU like it. Secondly, if you want to cook this on the stove, use a very large double bottom pot. If you don’t have one and are afraid of the sauce burning, use 2 crock pots – if you’re cutting it in half, one crockpot should be enough. You’ll still assemble your sauce in a large pot, and then transfer to the crockpot(s).

Using the largest pot you can possibly get your hands on, brown ground beef and sausage together, incorporating as best you can. I use a tool like this so that I can make sure the meat is broken up to the right consistency. Once meat is mostly brown, add onions and garlic to the pot. Here’s a little tip, crush your garlic over the pot, that way all the oils and juices from the cloves go into the pot, too. Let the onion and garlic simmer with the meat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.

Next, add the tomato sauce and tomato puree to the pot. Rinse each can with enough water to clean off all the stuff that clings to the sides, and add it to the sauce. Then, add the tomato paste, rinsing the can with as much water as you need to clean the sides – about 2 cans of water per can of paste.

This part is probably my favorite: transfer the San Marzano tomatoes to a large bowl, and crush them with your hand one by one into the pot. Rinse the can with the wine and add it to the sauce. Let the entire pot come to a bubble – definitely NOT a boil – while stirring constantly. Once bubbling, add remaining spices and salt and pepper to taste.

If you’re cooking on the stove, turn heat as low as possible, stirring occasionally, and let cook for 5-6 hours.

If you’re cooking in crockpots, transfer sauce to crockpot(s) and turn to low. Cook for 6-7 hours.

Serve over your favorite kind of pasta and enjoy!

Oh, what’s that? You say you’ve got leftovers? Of course you do! Transfer sauce to smaller containers and let it cool to room temperature. Store in the freezer for up to 12 months.


*So why are the San Marzano Tomatoes optional?

Well, here’s the thing: This recipe is a combination of Momma Lynn’s perfect sauce, Papa Leonard’s perfect sauce, and my perfect sauce. If you’ve got folks in your house/people that you’re cooking for that don’t like chunks of tomato in their sauce, then you don’t need to add the tomatoes. Momma Lynn doesn’t do chunks of tomato in her sauce, and Papa Leonard uses stewed tomatoes in his. But I’m pretty much obsessed with San Marzano tomatoes, and I write these recipes, so I say use those!   I mean, have I ever steered you wrong?!