Old-schooling it today with something I’m sure you’ve enjoyed before – homemade meat sauce! This one’s thick, rich, and hearty with beef and sausage. If you’ve never made your own sauce (what??), I am telling you it is so easy and absolutely worth the little bit of effort. Or maybe you’ve done it, but just don’t have THE PERFECT recipe yet. Well, I’m here to help, cuz we all need some homemade sauce once in a while, and I’m happy to do your thinking for you.
You will love this because it’s easy, truly delicious, and homemade. It will be the meal that keeps on giving since there is plenty for the 3 F’s (freezer, fridge, and friends)! **I absolutely adore alliteration. Always awesome.**
SIDEBAR: Now, I’ve been known to be perfectly happy with my store-bought Classico sauce (which I doctor up pretty heavily). High in sodium, sure (around 600 mg/cup). but as we have it only about once a month, it’s alright. And then there’s the part where I rely heavily on the empty jars for my annual Chex-mix making operation.
Just take a look at this beaut of a collection!
They’re pretty and and the perfect size and — dealmaker – the labels come off easily with no need to curse at the industrial strength gorilla glue that most jars use. (Francesco Rinaldi, for goodness sakes, why on earth the gorilla glue? You think those labels got some place they’d rather be? Perfectly nice jars, ruined…)
Back to homemade meat sauce and some important TRUTHS:
It always tastes better than jarred sauce *** The house smells heavenly for hours *** It was custom-made for the crockpot. Long and low for 10 hours? Perfection. (or 45 minutes to simmer on the stovetop).
There’s another important truth for you nervous Nellies out there. It is nearly impossible to mess up – seriously! I’ve made it with turkey meatballs, pork sausage, ground beef, turkey sausage, even shrimp. It all works. You can double up on the veggies, add more garlic, skip the bay leaf, or even add a little booze (a 1/2 cup of vodka or vermouth works nicely). The point is, whatever you put into it, the flavors mingle and get deeper and richer as it cooks. You’ll be sopping up the leftover sauce with a piece of bread and patting yourself on the back at the same time. [Then washing sauce outta your hair later, or maybe that's just me....]
And the final truth? You knew I was going to talk about this eventually. It is packed with good, healthy stuff! From potassium and lycopene to vitamin A, C, E, and K to (I’ll be honest I had to look this one up) copper. It’s packed with goodness, fiber, and flavor. Your body will LOVE you!
So why don’t I make homemade sauce more?? I often lack the right ingredients, though really how hard is it to keep canned tomatoes around? The other issue-that’s-not-really-an-issue is that I often crave it when it’s most inconvenient to make it. Like at 5:15 pm on weekday. Or late Sunday night when I think, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to come home to some homemade sauce tomorrow after work?”
Blah blah and blah. Sometimes it’s a shame how lame I can be. With just a few minutes’ forethought, I had what I needed. I whipped it together amidst my roles as the homework Nazi, superlative snack purveyor, and ninja chauffeur. Just another typical Thursday afternoon, really
Thick and Hearty Meat Sauce
Makes a LOT (~12 cups)
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 small cooking onions, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 28-oz cans ground peeled tomatoes
2 14-oz cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1) In a large nonstick skillet, brown the beef and sausage, then remove from heat.
2) While the meat is browning, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and saute for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add garlic, and saute for one more minute. Do not allow garlic to burn.
3) Combine the veggie mixture and the meat [either in the soup pot or a crockpot], and add the remaining ingredients (ground, peeled tomatoes through brown sugar). If using the stovetop method, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using crockpot method, cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
4) Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot atop cooked pasta with shredded Parmesan.