CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Spaghetti With Meat Sauce

A good meat sauce goes a long ways when it comes to pasta. Ask just about any kid, and they’ll tell you so.

I can attest to that. One of my favorite meals as a youngster was a meat sauce that we used to have over pasta for school hot lunch.

My Auntie Helen Tiedeman, who was the head cook, always made sure that I received a generous portion of whatever they were serving when passing through the line, including the pasta and sauce.

And though she did share some of the recipes that they made for us in the basement of the old Cathedral High School in Crookston, Minn., including a great one for sloppy Joes, I never did get the one for the tomato-based meat sauce.

Over the years, though, I have developed a couple of my own meat sauces for pasta, including the following, which just happens to be a favorite of my grandson, Rakeem. Whenever we have it, he always takes home leftover spaghetti and meat sauce.

The recipe varies from time to time, depending on what kind of ground meat we have available. The most recent spaghetti featured ground bison and ground pork.

And for sure, it would have been a hit with my old school mates.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 pound ground beef
½ to 1 pound pork sausage
2 6-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 pint whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, chopped fine (see note)
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Saute onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, pepper and carrots in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes, sauce and paste along with sugar, salt and herbs. Simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Serve over spaghetti.
Yield: Serves 8.
Note: I like to use a pint of canned carrots, liquid included, instead of raw carrots. Also, if your have picky vegetable eaters, put veggies in food processor first before sauteeing.

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