Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mama's Spaghetti Sauce

Growing up, every year on my birthday I would request the same thing:  my Mama's spaghetti for dinner and my Mama Lou's pound cake for dessert.  It is a meal straight from comfort food heaven and just the thought of it makes me feel happy and content....and hungry, very hungry.  When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy a few months ago, my mom asked if there was anything she could do to help me prepare for the baby.  I had only one request:  I wanted her spaghetti sauce recipe so I could make it in bulk and feast on it during those first tough newborn weeks.  It took a lot of effort to get the recipe, because she had never written it down before.  She just kind of threw things in a pot and produced deliciousness.  So she jotted down a general idea of what she did, which involved a lot of "add some water" and "an onion or two" and other vague instructions.  So when I got around to making it, my poor mother was flooded with texts, emails, and phone calls from me asking for more specifics.  But it was worth it: the end result was pretty darn close to my Mama's Spaghetti Sauce.    This sauce takes a lot of time (and probably love), but oh man, is it worth it.  

Mama's Spaghetti Sauce

~ 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, divided
1 lb Italian Sausage Links
1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Boneless Pork Loin
2 Sweet Onions, chopped
8-10 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine (like Merlot)
28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes (or San Marzano Whole Peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand)
28 oz can Tomato Sauce
12 oz can Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cups Water (plus more throughout cooking)
2-3 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 1/2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Sea Salt (or to taste)
2-3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Butter
Rind of Parmesan or Romano Cheese (optional)


1.  In a large enamel pot, brown sausage links in a few tablespoons of oil.  Using tongs, remove the sausage and set them aside in a bowl.  Next add in the ground beef and brown the beef.  Once no longer pink, remove from pot and add it to the bowl with the sausage.  In the now empty pan, add the pork loin (add more oil if needed), and brown the loin on all sides.  Using the tongs, remove the loin and add it to the bowl with the other meat.

2.  Add in the onions and sauté until they begin to soften (adding more oil if needed), and then add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.  Pour in the wine, and deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Allow wine to simmer with the vegetables for 5 minutes.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, bay leaves, basil, oregano, sea salt, brown sugar, lemon juice, and butter (and rind, if using).  Stir to combine, and then bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add all the meat back into the pot, stir, and reduce heat to low.  Cook uncovered for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally, and adding about half a cup of water every hour.  Make sure the sauce remains at a low simmer.

3.  Stir and do a taste test, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Cook for at least half an hour more, or until the sauce reaches the consistency you prefer, either by cooking down more or adding more water.  Break apart the pork loin with your wooden spoon, and then use tongs to remove the sausage to a cutting board.  Slice the sausage links and add back into your sauce and stir.  Remove the bay leaves and rind and discard.

4.  Serve the sauce over your favorite noodles.


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