I have made probably 40-plus recipes of spaghetti sauce over the years. Some of them made up, some of them from recipes. But I stumbled across the best method for making what I think is the best spaghetti sauce ever and it happened at my mother-in-law’s house. Granbunny is a good seat-of-your-pants cook. She doesn’t make fancy food, but what she does make is really, really good. We were over at her house one night and she served us spaghetti. It was the best sauce, but I couldn’t figure out what she’d done to get this dense consistency without any watery tomato residue in the bottom of the pan. Here’s the trick: She uses two pounds of ground chuck and she doesn’t drain the grease. So what happens is when you brown the meat, you go beyond the “gray” stage and you continue really browning the ground beef in its own fat until the fat disappears into the meat. Yes.
I’ve modified her recipe to make it even better, I think. Here’s the recipe.
Take two pounds of ground chuck and brown it until the grease has almost disappeared. Add about 1/2 cup finely diced carrot and 1/2 cup finely diced onion. Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Add two large cloves of diced garlic. Cook for about a minute and add a fourth of a can of tomato paste. Stir the paste into the meat mixture for a minute or two. Add a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and about a cup of dry red wine. Stir that in and then add about a tablespoon and a half of dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika. Simmer until you can’t stand it anymore.
The smoked paprika adds a smoky depth of flavor to the sauce. I actually add it to any tomato-based sauce I make.
This is terrific sauce for lasagna as well as spaghetti. I’ve also been known to take leftover sauce, heat it up in the microwave and use it as a dip for Fritos.
Tonight the sauce pot on the stove is for my husband, son and his best friend, Evan, who thinks I’m the best cook on the planet and calls me “mom.” I’m not the former at all or the latter to Evan, but I enjoy both complements.
(By the way, take the rest of the tomato paste in the can and divvy it up among two or three sheets of Saran wrap. Freeze it and use it when you make your next batch of sauce.)