I wasn’t born Italian and, as far as I know, I have no Italian in my heritage, just Cherokee and many other unknowns.
In other words, I’m a mutt! But mutts make the best keepers, right?
Regardless of my heritage, I can eat Italian food like a champ! I absolutely LOVE Italian food – any Italian dish. I haven’t met one I didn’t like yet!
And what better Italian dish than a classic pasta and meat sauce?
I love cooking spaghetti because you can experiment and throw in different things until you find your perfect fit. It’s really hard to mess it up!
This sauce recipe is the perfect blend of meaty and tomato. It hits the spot on a cool night in front of the fire with some good red wine and candles and the company of your choice….. feeling it yet?
Or if you are a mom, like me, and you are lucky to find time twice a year to shave your legs, you could just have it on a random Saturday with a house full of people, kids running wild and lots of love to go around!!!!
First things first: pour 2 glasses of red wine – good or bad, cheap or pricey, it matters not – just pour the red wine.
And if you are not a red wine drinker, then pour 1 glass of red and 1 glass of white. I am a firm believer that you must drink wine while cooking Italian or it just doesn’t taste as good!
One glass is for you and the other is for you to share with your meat sauce. This is the secret to good sauce: if you share your wine with your sauce, it will love you back. It’s like singing to flowers so they will grow.
After you take a moment to have that first sip of wine, you are ready to start. Chop the onions and mushrooms, mince the garlic and put it all into one big beautiful pile of freshness.
I always get excited when I mince garlic because I get to use one of my favorite kitchen toys. Seriously, I have broken 3 of these already I use them so much. It is one of the BEST gadgets I have. I use it ALL THE TIME!
It is a Chef Garlic Zoom, even the name sounds fun. You just put your cloves in the top and roll it around on the counter and voila your garlic is minced. I usually just roll it around on my leg while I’m walking around doing something else. It’s also great if your kids are joining you in the kitchen. My son loves to play with it. Mine came from Williams-Sonoma but an quick internet search will reveal a multitude of places they are available. For a limited time, you can order it and save with the following promo code: 4WZQ-LK4R-W9M4.
They make awesome Christmas gifts! I know way to think ahead…… way ahead! You’re welcome!
Now, pour the olive oil into your skillet and set the burner to medium heat (I use “6″ on my gas stove). I always use olive oil, it’s an essential oil and it just seems like the healthy choice.
Once the oil is heated, grab your onions, mushrooms and garlic and throw them in the skillet to saute.
While you are waiting, grab your glass of wine and have another sip…. or two and drink in that wonderful smell that is filling up your kitchen. Now glance over at your husband sitting in the chair (you know that’s where he is) and wait for it….. wait for it….. now, he is looks up at you adoringly as that wonderful smell reaches his nose and he stares at you adoringly thinking, “I sure am glad I married a little southern girl that knows her way around a kitchen.” The two of you share a moment from across the room over the commotion of playing kids.
Okay I may have overplayed that, but a girl can dream, right?
Back to reality, saute that collection of garden goodness until the juices run clear, I would say about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Now you are ready to throw in the meat. I use 2 lbs. of Italian sausage (mild) and 1 lb. of ground beef.
When the meat is about 1/2 browned, you want to add the basil, oregano and any other yummy spices you may have on hand. I say the more spices the better! Go crazy, try something new. If you have fresh herbs, now is the time to use them, if not: there is no shame in store bought spices – I use them all the time.
Once your meat is fully browned (and I mean fully, don’t play around with uncooked hamburger), move it all to a dutch oven. I know you could just do all the sauteeing in the dutch oven and avoid the skillet, but I simply prefer to use my skillet. If you prefer to use the dutch oven, go for it!
Add all the other ingredients at this time to the dutch oven and stir. You could also add the mixture to a crock pot at this stage and cook on low all day for a ready made dinner when you arrive home.
Don’t forget your wine! Yes you have to share with the sauce remember! You will thank me!
Turn the burner down to low and let the sauce simmer for an hour or more. The longer it simmers, the better. Check on it from time to time to make sure all the liquid hasn’t cooked out. If it looks a little dry, add a little more red wine or a little water. I personally find the red wine makes it less runny than water and it adds to the rich flavor.
About 30 minutes before I am ready to serve dinner, I prepare the noodles. I simply fill a stock pot with water and add a tablespoon of olive oil (so the noodles don’t stick together) and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, I slide in my noodles – use the noodles you have or the noodles you like best!
A side note about noodles, repeat after me:
NEVER BREAK THE NOODLES
NEVER BREAK THE NOODLES
NEVER BREAK THE NOODLES
Just slide them into the boiling water and let them sink down on their own.
Trivia Break: Does anyone remember the 1993 movie with Michael Keaton playing a dying dad that makes videos for his newborn son to watch as he grows older to teach him important things about life since he won’t be them to teach his son?
My Life – don’t worry I had to Google it since I could remember the movie but not the title and in my old mommy mind, it was Tom Hanks not Michael Keaton.
Anyway, one of the life lessons he includes is how to cook pasta and he stresses the importance of never breaking the noodles and instead letting them slide in.
Wonderful movie, if you haven’t seen it, rent it and watch it while your spaghetti simmers. Bring the tissues!
Once the noodles are done, stir your meat sauce one last time
Dish some pasta up on a plate and pile some of your wonderful, steamy meat sauce on top and enjoy!!!! Your family will rave about it!
- 1 lb Ground Hamburger
- 2 lbs. Ground Italian Sausage (mild)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
- 1 tbsp dried oregano and basil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 cans (10 oz each) tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 cup red wine (I used merlot)
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic. Cook until juices run clear (about 5 minutes). Add hamburger and sausage. Cook until browned through - add oregano and basil 1/2 way through browning. Add meat mixture to dutch oven or large pot. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for one hour (or longer).
- You can also add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve with noodles.