Every family has their standard spaghetti sauce recipe, and this is ours. It’s hearty meat sauce that is rich in flavors and perfect for a spaghetti dinner. The recipe is based on one from my mother-in-law Irene, lightened a bit by using less olive oil.*
We vary the meat combo depending on what we have in the freezer or can find at the market, but try when we can to use at least one other meat besides beef, usually pork. The quantities of meat are non-exact since that’s the way you find them at the market, but overall its about 2 lbs.
Of course, you could make the sauce by using ground turkey or chicken, but then it wouldn’t be our sauce now, would it? It would be yours.
Our Spaghetti Sauce
Put a the teapot filled with fresh water. Open one large 1 lb 13oz can of Italian tomatoes and buzz them on the food processor with a large 1 lb 13 oz can of tomato puree. (Alternatively, just open 2 cans of crushed tomatoes).
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan on high heat. Add 8-10 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp fennel seeds and cook, stirring, till they begin to turn color. Immediately add 1 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 to 1 lb ground pork or Italian sausage (removed from casings) and 1/2 to 1 lbs ground veal, and cook, stirring frequently.
While the meat is cooking, put two cubes of beef bouillon into a large pyrex measuring cup and add 2 cups boiling water, stirring to dissolve the cubes.
Just when the meat loses its redness, stir in 3 tbsp flour and the bouillon. Allow to thicken about a minute. Add the tomatoes and stir. (To stretch the sauce further, add a can of tomato paste and a can of water). Add spices – 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, ground black pepper +/- crushed chili pepper to taste, 1 tsp dried oregano (or more to taste), 1 tsp dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh pesto (we almost always use the pesto since we usually have some homemade in the freezer) and 1 cup finely chopped parsley.
Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for at least an hour.
This recipe makes enough for 2 lbs of spaghetti and tastes best the second day. It freezes well.
For leftovers, dice eggplant and salt it. Toss in oil and garlic and lightly brown. Toss with leftover spaghetti. Spread 1/2 cup mozarella and sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 1/2 hour.
*The original recipe called for 1/2 cup olive oil. Irene tells me her Italian friend told her you have to use a lot of oil in your spaghetti sauce, and indeed recipes for Neopolitan Tomato Sauce call for 1/2 cup oil. One of these days I’ll make it that way and see if it makes a difference. If any of my Italian readers want to comment, feel free.