Friday, January 14, 2011

Fabulous Friday Food - Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Have you ever been to the National Archives building in Washington D.C.? That's the building that houses the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and all those other important documents. It's got really thick walls and super-high pillars out front, and the doors are made of the thickest steel you can imagine.

Why the super-security? Well, because those documents are pretty valuable, not just monetarily, but also to our country's heritage. Nobody is getting near those documents (well, unless you're Nicolas Cage and you have a personal vendetta).

This is exactly how I feel about my spaghetti sauce recipe. It's a valuable piece of my family heritage, and I hardly ever give it out. Like, never.

Not that anyone's ever asked for it before. They probably haven't, which is most likely why I've never given it out, but it's nice to pretend that I'm one of those family-secret-recipe people.

I grew up watching my mom make spaghetti sauce. She'd start it in the morning and let it simmer away all day, and our entire house would smell like sauce. Yum. I learned a lot by watching my mom, but I've also tweaked the recipe some over the years. This is probably nothing like the sauce my mom used to make. It's better. (Sorry, Mom! I couldn't resist!)

Anyway, here today, I'm giving you the recipe to one of my family's all-time favorite meals: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. I honestly think it's not that much harder than opening a jar, so you might as well take the time to make it homemade. Plus, it tastes exponentially better than that jarred stuff. With a little bit of effort, you can have a meal that your family will love too.

So here we go. Homemade spaghetti sauce.

Start with about a pound and a half of ground beef, one large (or two smallish) onion, and a good bit of minced garlic.

Brown that all together, then drain off the fat. (No picture of draining fat because . . . well . . . eeew.)

After you've drained the fat off, return the meat to the heat, but move it away to the side. (This part is the trickiest part of the whole thing. Just pay attention.) In the area in the middle of the pan, put the contents of one small can of tomato paste.

Move it around just a little until it coats the bottom of the pan. This will start to happen as the tomato paste gets warm.

Once you have some "bits" on the bottom of the pan, add a second can of tomato paste and mix everything together with the meat and onions and garlic.

Next, add a big splash of red wine (about a half cup), scraping the "bits" from the bottom of the pan.

Mix that together until nice and thick.

Now add your tomatoes: 1 large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes, 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, and 2 large cans (15 oz) of tomato sauce. Bring that to a nice, bubbly boil.

Now it's time for some spices. A couple of large handfuls of dried basil (use fresh if you have it), one large handful of oregano, and some salt.

Now just turn down the heat a little, put a lid on it, and let it simmer for a while. The longer it simmers, the better it is. Plus, it's a little free "Spaghetti Sauce" scented air freshener for your house!

Serve over noodles and enjoy!

Here's the great thing about the recipe I just gave you: it makes a lot. As in, you can serve this to your family for dinner, then have some leftovers, and still have enough sauce to make a lasagne for next week (it's also great for mostaccioli). Or do what I do and put the remaining sauce into a couple of Ziplok bags and throw them in the freezer. Instant dinner on one of "those" nights.

Shelly's Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large (or 2 small) onions
1-2 cloves minced garlic (depending on how much you like)
2 (8 oz) cans tomato paste
1/2 Cup red wine
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Salt to taste

1. Brown ground beef with onions and garlic; drain.

2. Push meat to the sides of the pan. Add 1 can tomato paste and allow to "adhere" to the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat--this will take a couple of minutes. Add second can of tomato paste and mix with meat.

3. Add red wine, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan.

4. Add rest of tomatoes and spices; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer at least one hour, preferably two or three. Serve over spaghetti noodles.




  1. Stupid question: what if I don't have any red wine? I'm not opposed to wine, but we don't keep it on hand or anything. Is the sauce doomed without it?

    P.S. That looks SO good!!!

  2. Looks like you also need a Magnalite roaster! They're good for almost anything!!!

  3. HIGHLY suggest using Italian canned tomatoes.

    Mary, there is nothing like adding red wine to the sauce...yum. But of course you are not doomed without it. Just my opinion. (I use a very similar recipe.)

  4. Mary--you might be able to find a red cooking wine in the condiments aisle of your grocery store that could suffice.

  5. Hey Mary, I meant to add this to my post, but forgot. You can certainly use water--it's not that big of a deal. The wine just adds a certain something . . . . :)

  6. I have always make a light marinara sauce in the summer with fresh garden tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil.

    But this sounds so yummy and rich!

    I'm not a fan of ground beef, but the rest of my family loves meat sauce. Wonder how much it would change the sauce to eliminate the meat????? And the WINE!!! I love cooking with wine. I love the "excuse" to pour myself a glass when I have to use it for the recipe anyway. :)

  7. I look forward to trying this recipe. My husband would eat spaghetti every night of the week . . . all year long.


  8. You make the best spaghetti sauce!


  9. Just curious...your recipe calls for 2 8 oz. cans of tomato paste but I can only find 6 and 12 oz. cans. What brand do you use?

  10. Sorry anonymous. My mistake. It should be a 6 oz. can.