|Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Italian Sausage|
Featured at Il Mito Trattoria from March 14th to March 20th with proceeds to support Oprah's Angel Network
My first memory of this recipe is seeing it handwritten on a small index card in my mom’s recipe box when I was a young child. However, there were no exact measurements listed, only notes. My mom took the recipe from her mother and her mother before, and so on. The exact recipe was always illusory, as my grandma and mom always said to “add a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” Once I left home for college (Marquette) in 1999, I pinned down the measurements in order to make the recipe while away from home. I knew I couldn’t go long without it! Although it took me a few tries to get it just right, I’m glad that I have figured it out! The key to the recipe is the long cooking time- but I have cooked up a batch of the sauce in an hour on weeknights for my husband and I too. For as long as I can remember, grandma’s/mom’s spaghetti sauce was chosen by my two sisters and I for our “birthday” dinners every year. The smell of this sauce cooking on an early morning Saturday as a child filled the house with magnificent aromas…that smell was a sure sign that my belly would be full and happy at dinner that night. My mom always made a HUGE pot of sauce since it took most of the day- and I can still see that big pot sitting on the stovetop now. As kids, my sisters and I loved to help Mom “add” the mushrooms or sausage and tried to get as many ladles full with sausage in them as we could! This sauce brought our family together at the end of many long days and kept us at the dinner table for a LONG time…I could have eaten a whole pot myself if my mom would have let me! Now, I make the sauce routinely for my husband, a Wisconsin native who has also fallen in love with it. I use it to make lasagna for friends, who always give rave reviews. There’s just *some*thing about this recipe that makes you feel like you’re at home. It was difficult to write this recipe down because it still only exists in my head. That recipe card where my mom had scribbled minimal notes is stained with years of sauce and torn from old age- a sure sign that a recipe has been used and loved to its fullest! I hope that others will love this sauce as much as I have!
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Brown 1 1/2 pound 80/20 ground beef or 1 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground veal.
Once browned, drain some of the fat off the beef and return pot to stovetop.
Over medium heat, add 2 small cans stewed (or crushed if you don’t have stewed) tomatoes, 2 small cans whole tomatoes and 2 small cans tomato sauce to the beef; extra sauce can be used to thin the sauce and tomato paste can be used to thicken the sauce if necessary.
To the tomato/beef mixture, add about 2tbsp granulated sugar, 1tbsp oregano (dried) or a handful of chopped fresh oregano to taste, 2 tsp italian seasoning and one whole clove of garlic (smashed with the back of your knife). Turn heat down to low and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 hours (or all day if you have the time). While slow cooking for several hours is key to providing a very robust taste, a very tasty dish can be whipped up in under an hour if short on time! As long as the beef and sausage are cooked through, you are good to go!
Three hours before the 6 hours is up, add 2 cups sliced button mushrooms to the sauce.
One hour before the 6 hours is up, slice 6 links of uncooked sweet Italian sausage into 1 1/2 inch pieces and add to the sauce to cook.
After 5-6 hours of cooking, remove the garlic clove; add a dash more oregano if needed and salt and pepper to taste. Adding the salt and pepper at the end ensures that the sauce isn’t too salty and that the salt flavor is not dissipated through hours of cooking.
Simmer for 10 more minutes.
Serve sauce atop the pasta of your choice (or use in your favorite lasagna recipe), top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!