Recipe: Good-Time Garlic Spaghetti Sauce

Greetings, all! I’ve been a little burned out on gear lately, but another hobby has surged to the fore – Cooking. So, I’m back with another recipe, a rich meat and tomato sauce perfect for spaghetti, lasagna, or soaking up a few glasses of wine.

This recipe is rooted in my Grandmother’s spaghetti: Two cans of tomato sauce, one can of tomato paste, ground beef, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. It was a simple, delicious meal I loved as a child, much more than the ubiquitous jars of Prego and Ragu. When I began cooking seriously in my first college apartment, this was one of the first recipes I tried. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years, and it’s still one of my favorite things to make. The ingredients have grown, but the love remains the same.

Could I use fresh herbs? Sure. Would it be better with whole San Marzano tomatoes? Probably. But this is the biggest crowd-pleaser in my arsenal. My friends regularly request it, and I have a decade’s worth of happy memories associated with a heaping plate of this sauce. Every time I make it, I go back to being eight years old, sitting at the kitchen counter, watching Grandma cook while cartoons played in the background. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

 Good-Time Garlic Spaghetti Sauce

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Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 LB. ground turkey
  • 1 LB. ground Italian sausage (I prefer hot or medium.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can of tomato puree
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine (I like to use merlot or pinot noir.)
  • 1 tbs. dried oregano (regular, not Mexican. There is a difference.)
  • 1 tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. season salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch sugar (Optional)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  • EXTRA: Set aside another ½ tsp. each of season salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to season the meat.

Prep Work

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Peel your garlic, cut off the hard tops, and set them aside in a small bowl. Chop your onions and red pepper, and put them in another container. I usually grab some Tupperware for this, since I’ll be using them to hold the leftovers anyway.

Next, assemble your spices. I like to combine them in a small dish, apart from the extra set aside for seasoning the meat. Pop open the wine and pour 1/3 cup for the sauce and a full cup for yourself.

Let’s Cook!

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You can use a variety of cooking pots for this sauce. I prefer an enameled Dutch oven or a large, covered skillet, but a stock pot will also do. Heat the olive oil over medium-high, until it becomes glossy. Next, drop in your Italian sausage and ground turkey. Break them up with a spatula or spoon (non-metallic) and sprinkle the extra season salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder onto the mixture. Cook until the meat is about half-browned, then add your onions, red bell pepper, and garlic.

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Allow the mixture to cook until the onions are clear and the meat is cooked through. At this point, add the 1/8 cup flour and stir well. This will suck up the juice from the cooking meat and capture all its flavor. If you’re using ground beef instead of turkey, you may want to drain some of the grease.

Stir the mixture to coat everything with the flour. Allow it to simmer for a minute or two to thicken and cook off the raw flour taste. Then add the wine and the drained can of petite diced tomatoes. Give it a good stir, add all the remaining spices, and stir again. Allow this mixture to simmer for four to five minutes, cooking off the alcohol, heating the spices, and softening the tomatoes. I usually mash them a little bit, which helps distribute the flavor. Pay attention to this mixture as it cooks. You don’t want it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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Now it’s time to dump in all of the remaining tomato goodness. Stir in the puree, crushed tomatoes, and paste, adding the three bay leaves. Bring to a strong simmer, then reduce the heat to medium or low. Once the sauce is releasing the occasional bubble, cover the mixture and allow it to simmer for up to an hour. It’s technically “done cooking” after 40 minutes or so, but the extra time really deepens the flavor. Stir semi-frequently, but watch out – This sauce will send splatters when it bubbles. You can give it a taste after 30 minutes or so, adjusting spices to your liking. You shouldn’t need to add any moisture, but mix in a little water or broth if it starts to get to thick.

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Once the time is up, remove the bay leaves and you’re ready to go. This sauce goes well with just about any kind of noodle, and tastes great with a little Parmesan sprinkled on top. For the vegetarians out there, I can report that this actually turns out quite tasty without the meat. It also freezes particularly well, so don’t be afraid of making too much.

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That’s it! I hope this brings as much happiness to your lives as it has to mine. Let me know if you’re enjoying these recipes, and check out my Instagram to see what else I’ve got on the burner.

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