Who doesn’t love a plate of pasta covered in a beautiful homemade spaghetti sauce? Buying sauce in the jar at the supermarket typically means a lot of added salt and often added sugar as well. And homemade just tastes better. This past week, Laurie over at The Frugal Farmer posted How to Make and Can Spaghetti Sauce which gave step-by-step instructions on preparing a delicious-sounding homemade sauce from fresh tomatoes and preserving it in jars. She makes it sound easy but if you’re anything like me, you might be a little intimidated by a 3-day cooking process and dealing with canning supplies. For those of us who want to take baby steps, I thought I’d share with you this recipe for meat sauce using canned tomato products and dried herbs, plus the convenience of freezing portions.
Where’s the meat in the meat sauce?
Most meat sauces in a jar at the supermarket are really just “meat-flavored”. This basically means that the meat and the sauce shook hands and went their separate ways. But with this sauce recipe (originally from my wife’s Aunt Julie), the meat and the sauce have a passionate love affair. If there’s too much meat, you can reduce the amount to suit your family or your budget. Plus, there are other ways to alter the recipe to your taste, and I’ve made a few notes below to that effect.
Is homemade spaghetti sauce cheaper?
Homemade spaghetti sauce most definitely tastes better than sauce from the supermarket, and it can be healthier as well. As far as cost, it depends on the price of your regular jar sauce versus the cost of the ingredients in your recipe. You may choose to alter the recipe (for example, use less meat) or you may buy the ingredients when they’re on sale. With the alterations my wife and I make to this recipe and the way we shop, it costs roughly the same as the jar sauce we used to purchase. Your mileage may vary.
- 3 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 2 lb ground beef
- 1 lb pork sausage meat removed from casing
- 2 cups onion chopped
- 1 ea green pepper chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 large cans plum tomato puree (about 28 oz per can)
- 3 small cans tomato paste (about 6 oz per can)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 4 tsp oregano dried
- 4 tsp basil dried
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp thyme dried
- 2 tblsp parsley dried
- 2 tblsp salt (optional)
- pepper to taste
Reserve until end
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 1 tsp basil dried
- Gather and prepare ingredients.
- In a large stockpot, fry bacon pieces until crispy. Drain excess grease (leave 1 tblsp).
- Add ground beef and pork and cook until browned. Drain excess grease if needed.
- Add onion, green pepper, and garlic and cook until soft.
- Add tomato puree, tomato paste, 1 cup of wine, 4 tsp of oregano, 4 tsp of basil, water, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Add remainder of wine and herbs and stir thoroughly.
- Too much fat? We use two and a half pounds of 93% ground beef for a lower-fat version and omit the pork sausage.
- Sweet or hot? If you use the pork sausage meat, you can use sweet or hot depending on your taste.
- Too much meat? The sauce is meant to be thick and hearty, but you can always reduce the amount of meat to save money or if you simply prefer it that way.
- Too salty? The salt is optional...I'm on a low-sodium diet and I don't even miss it.
- Like a chunky sauce? Do a coarse chop on the onion and green pepper. For a smoother sauce, pulse the vegetables in a food processor a few times.
- Like a thicker sauce? Add a fourth can of tomato paste.
- Got kids? Forget the last half cup of wine or leave the wine out altogether.
- Too acidic? Add a tsp or two of baking soda when cooking and mix well. Sugar can mask the acidic taste but it won't fool your stomach.
Making easy dinners
Once the sauce is made, portion one dinner’s worth into containers and allow it to cool. Then fill up your freezer with easy dinners to simply thaw and then heat in a saucepan or microwave. Serve this sauce over pasta. If you’re trying to eat healthier, try whole grain pasta or spaghetti squash, or even zucchini cut into “noodles”. But I confess, I’ve been known to just eat it right out of the container!
Sometimes we save a portion to make a delicious meat lasagna, but that’s a post for another day.
Do you cook your own homemade spaghetti sauce? What’s your special recipe?