31 March 2016

Spaghetti Sauce - Meat Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

Though I'd been cooking with my mother and grandmothers for years, I'd never made spaghetti or meat sauce. That I learned from my mother's friend Maggie when she came to spend a week with us shortly after we moved away when I was 13. Maggie was an alcoholic, so there were two Maggies. The drunk wild woman I couldn't stand and the sober intelligent woman who intrigued me.

She was on her best behavior during her stay, so I was treated to intelligent and witty conversation, introductions to books I'd never read and glimpses of the southern belle who'd been married to several men from all walks of life. It was during that "dry" week that her talents in the kitchen were revealed. Besides showing me how to make spaghetti, she gave me An Early Lesson in Mise en Place.

My friend Jo was recently lamenting the fact that she had no recipe for a really good spaghetti sauce that didn't call for Italian sausage or ground pork or anything else the average home cook isn't likely to just have on hand all the time.

So I went to work on that, and I think I've come up with a nice little meat sauce that captures some of those flavors without anyone having to run out to the shops to buy anything special. Most of us omnivores keep some ground beef in the freezer at all times. I always buy extra lean so there's no need to drain off the fat.

All the herbs called for are dried herbs because most of us don't have a ready supply of affordable fresh herbs all year round. It calls for a little wine (which you can skip if you don't use alcohol) because I almost always have about half a cup of leftover wine in the refrigerator. 

You can make it from start to finish in about an hour and a half, including the simmering time. Since I was just cooking for one today, I measured 2 cups (enough for 2 people) of sauce into each of 3 freezer containers for future meals and just ate the remaining cup myself over spaghetti.

Update 08/30/16: Here's how to make Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals.

If you are out of marjoram (or never had any to begin with!), this is the time to get some. I taste as I go when I'm developing a recipe; and when I had everything in this sauce but the marjoram, there was just a little something not quite right. I thought, I bet a little marjoram would mellow this out just right. And it did!

Of course, with Mr. Delightful's aversion to "messy" foods, we'll be having this sauce on penne or rigatoni rather than spaghetti. How about you? Do you like long pasta or shapes? 

Spaghetti Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

Oh, this photo reminds me: Stay tuned! Be sure to come back next time for a fantastic Le Creuset giveaway! 


Spaghetti Sauce



(Makes about 6 servings)

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 pound (454 grams) extra lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 14.5-ounce (411 grams) can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce (411 grams) can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce (227 grams) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry red or white wine, optional

1 In large skillet or wide pan (I use a Le Creuset 3.5-quart stainless steel saucier), toast the fennel seed over low heat; pour toasted seeds onto chopping board or into grinder.

2 Heat olive oil in the now empty pan. Add chopped onion, green pepper and carrot; cook until softened, about 10 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, chop or grind the fennel seed; stir it in.

3 Add ground beef to pan and cook, breaking up into fairly fine pieces. As it browns, sprinkle on the Worcestershire sauce and salt.

4 Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, loosely covered, for about 45 minutes. Of course, you can add more liquid and simmer longer with great results, if you have the time!

46 comments:

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Mmmmmm could I ever go for a plate of your spaghetti for dinner tonight, Jean! I don't care what kind of pasta it would be. I'll let you decide! Your sauce sounds like the perfect recipe with all the perfect blend of herbs. I love the idea of the individual dish of Parmesan cheese for the plate. Yum!

Cranberry Morning said...

Unfortunately I don't have any of this sitting right in front of me. I would make it tonight, but I don't have fennel and don't have enough time. I want to be eating in an hour. BUT, I will be making this recipe soon! (as soon as I get the fennel. I always have marjoram on hand.) And I've learned to trust you regarding Worcestershire sauce. It's so good in your wonderful beef stew! Thanks for another great recipe, Jean. xo

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kitty, thank you. And I'm pleased you noticed that little dish!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Judy. So glad you trust me about the Worcestershire sauce!

Lea Ann (Cooking on the Ranch) said...

Marjoram is a great spice and I love it in spaghetti sauce. And yes, there's nothing better than home made...and never ever forget the fennel. It's my secret ingredient. :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Fennel seed IS wonderful, isn't it? It's so fragrant, it seems like it's going to be overpowering; but then it mellows out and just adds a nice undertone.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean--what a great concoction of herbs. I long ago learned if you wanted anything to taste like sausage add fennel. I have to admit I haven't used marjoram much so I'm going to ponder your comment about 'the sometime missing' ingredient. It does have a softer feel. And I love the touch of red pepper flakes in the sauce.

I would still tend to substitute a pork sausage for the ground beef in the recipe.

What type of pasta? Ah....I've cut way back on my pasta intake...however I always like to make my own linguine style using a pasta machine. Of late I've enjoyed a homestyle noodle from Costco that's very chewy. Otherwise I like the fun pasta shapes--spirals that I can play with in my mouth!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sue. Marjoram is probably my all-time favorite, most frequently used herb; so I'm glad to hear I've got you "pondering" it! :-)

ellen b said...

This really looks good! Visiting from Thoughts of Home on Thursday...

Joanne Young said...

Ahh Jeanie! You remembered! I love your recipe. It has the "essential" fennel seeds, as we discussed. As usual, the photo is amazing! I am now craving spaghetti!
I WILL be trying this soon.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ellen, thanks for visiting!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

That's wonderful, Joanne! Can't wait to hear about it!

Angie Schneider said...

The meat sauce is my husband's favourite...terrible me always getting those ready mix :-(( Thanks for sharing this recipe, Jean. I will give it a try next time when I prepare pasta.

Margaret-whiteangel said...

All people are good at something.

The Cranky said...

Marjoram I love but haven't used fennel as much; you've inspired me to do so the next time I make sauce! As for pasta... I love any shape or size. Yum!

Bernideen said...

Dear Jean:
I can't thank you enough. My husband is allergic to garlic and every jar at the store had garlic or garlic powder in it. I am going to try your recipe (less the garlic if there was any) as I am trying different recipes to just make my own. Thanks for sharing and linking and I am now printing this out!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Angie, please do! And let me know how you both liked it!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Margaret, that's true. If you're referring to Maggie, she was good at lots of things, truly a woman of many talents. And I do hope that she eventually conquered her problem and enjoyed her last years to the full.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Bernideen, I'm so happy. Your husband would be safe dining with us. I've been allergic to garlic for years. It's a tough allergy to deal with when eating out. I must say, though, that Worcestershire sauce (at least the Lea & Perrins that I insist on) contains garlic; but it doesn't seem to bother me, perhaps because it is aged. So you might want to leave that out OR experiment with it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jacqueline, thank you! Do give the fennel seeds a try (toast them dry in a pan on the stovetop, then chop or grind them) and let me know how you liked them.

Marilyn Lesniak said...

Delish as usual Jean! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe at The Recipe Sharing Pin and Yum Party! I hope to see you next week. Pinned and Yummed.
Please visit Thursday Favorite Things for more sharing fun!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Marilyn, thanks so much. Your Pins and Yums are much appreciated!

Sue/the view from great island said...

This meal is probably the best thing my mom made when I was a kid, it conjures up comfort and joy for me...it's a classic!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sue, isn't it fun to recall those wonderful food memories from childhood!

Cocoa and Lavender said...

This just brings back the comforts of visiting my Italian family in Vermont. I can tell that your house must have smelled incredible while this was simmering, Jean!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I do love the aromas filling the house, David. Is being part of an Italian family as much fun as it looks?! :-)

Laura said...

This sounds wonderful!
I am sorry to say that I usually use spaghetti sauce from a jar.
You have inspired me!

Thank you for sharing this at TOHOT.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Inspired? That's sweet, Laura! Thank you.

handmade by amalia said...

Every food should come with a bit of personal history. Looks delicious.
Amalia
xo

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

And most of mine do! :-) Thanks, Amalia.

Miz Helen said...

Hi Jean,
Your Spaghetti Sauce looks delicious,makes me hungry, thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday!
Miz Helen

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Miz Helen! I took out one of my dinner-for-two freezer containers this morning and will be having the sauce over penne pasta tonight. Can't wait.

Swathi Iyer said...

Jean you made simple pasta into awesome dinner using this sphagetti sauce. You can make some and ship it to me. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Swathi! You're the best!

Pauline Wiles said...

Hah! Great recipe but you're right, this is a "messy" undertaking for both cook and recipients. Mister W. and I indulge in the long spaghetti, but I confess we don't wear our best sweaters when doing so... just in case.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

:D Pauline, I'm afraid Mr. Delightful and I can both wreck our best sweaters even with the neater pasta shapes! Sometimes it's best to keep one's apron on straight through dinner!

Stacey said...

This sounds amazing! I am pinning this because the combination of spices and Worcestershire sauce sounds great. My family loves spaghetti. We could eat it once a week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Stacey, thanks so much! I'm a social media dunce, so all social media shares are much appreciated. :D I hope your family will like this version.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Love a rich, meaty sauce like this! It's been ages since I've made one -- I think you've inspired me. Thanks!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, John! I froze it in 2-cup portions for two (to go over 1/3 pound of penne, which is just right for Mr. Delightful and me).

Nicole Small said...

I have been looking for a great spaghetti sauce. Thanks for sharing on the Country Fair Blog Party this month!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Nicole! I hope this one will prove to be "The One!"

April J Harris said...

There's nothing like a good homemade meat sauce, Jean and yours sounds really delicious. Sharing! I love spaghetti, but I like just about any other pasta shapes as well. I don't mind if food is messy! Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Hop.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ha! I'm with you, April, I don't mind if a food is messy! Thank you for sharing my spag bol!

Swathi Iyer said...

Home made is always best Jean, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Swathi, much appreciated! I'm making a double batch of it today to put up several freezer meals.

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