Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spaghetti Sauce from Heaven

I promise you right now, you are going to thank me for this recipe. I needed to make spaghetti for Kyle's swim team Monday, so they can "carb-up" for their meet on Tuesday. I found this recipe for "Mom's Spaghetti" (from an Italian guy named Chris Divito) on the Food Network. There were many, many reviews that raved about it, and yet, I could not understand what could possibly be so good about a spaghetti sauce with such simple ingredients. Since I am no Rachel Ray, I figured I didn't know what I was talking about and should just trust the reviews. Boy, am I glad I did! This sauce is wonderful. [and yes, you could just go get the recipe from the link, but there will be no photos, and reading my post will be much more entertaining :)

First, the ingredients:We were planning to feed a swim team, plus have extra, so I tripled the recipe. For the single recipe batch, click on the link above.

3 lbs ground round
3 lbs ground pork
3 lbs Italian sausage

Here, you wonder, HOLY COW! Isn't that a lot of meat?! Yes, it is, but I never promised you a vegan recipe. (It's protein, Baby!)

15 6oz cans tomato paste (Yeah, your wrist will get a workout; quit your whining!) (90 oz. total)
30 cans of water (otherwise known as 180 oz or 1.4 gallons)
6 large onions, chopped
3 tablespoons basil
3 tablespoons oregano
12 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon freshly-ground pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

First, brown the meat. I had so much that I had to put it in two pans.

(Obviously, you won't have to do that if you just do a single batch.) Can I just add that breaking up nine pounds of meat to brown is a real workout? (Who needs Wii Fit?!)

[At this point, you may be wondering, Where's the cute doggie??"
  Our "cute" little doggie was outside in the dog kennel, having been caught eating butter off the kitchen counter this afternoon!!]

Next, open the bajillion cans of tomato sauce. Do not say a word to your husband who decided that small cans would be better than doing the math and buying larger cans. (After all, he went to the store for you, and he's helping, so be quiet.)

Here's a fun trick; open both ends of the tomato paste cans,

so then, you can just push the paste through the can (assuming that you have nice long fingers, like mine :)

It's still kind of a mess, but look what you get:

I still give it a quick swipe with the rubber scraper so that I get every bit. Then, smush the garlic in a garlic press, but don't panic if you don't have one; ours broke during this photo, so we just minced it.

I'm lucky, because as you learned here, Mr.4444 loves to chop onions for me.

He's a big baby about it, though...

Sorry about the hairdo; that's no shower yet, combined with snow-blowing hat-head. See, Mr.4444 drops everything to help me in the kitchen, so I don't complain about the hair. Besides, I had to get a tissue...
When the meat has browned, add it to the pot with the onions, garlic, and tomato paste.

Add the Parmesan cheese. (And no, you may not use the canned kind; is that really cheese anyway?? Regardless, there is nothing like REAL Parmesan cheese.)

Add the cans of water. ( Again, this is proof that you do end up using math again in "real life." I used a 2-cup measure and poured 11 of them in, because the original recipe called for 10 tomato paste cans of water, and I was not about to measure 30 cans of water. If you are a math freak and think I made a mistake, please keep your genius to yourself, thanks.)

Also add the basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning. If I buy them dry, I like to rub them between my fingers (or, in this case, hands), because it "wakes up" their flavors. (Yes, really. I made that up, but I'm pretty sure it's true.)

Freshly ground pepper is better than canned, too.

[Yes, I do know the dishwasher door is wide open. That's how we roll in this house, because a cracked shin is like heaven to us (I told you this is Spaghetti from Heaven! ( At least it's empty!)]

Mix it all up. As you may recall, Mr.4444 loves to mix stuff up when it's in this enormous, insanely-deep pot. (Plus, I think the hair on his arms adds flavor.)

Simmer the sauce for 3-4 hours. It took us about an hour to get the sauce up to proper heat, but that's because of how much we had.

I have to tell you, this sauce tasted terrific right away. Imagine how it tasted two hours later, when we snuck a bunch out for supper with Mr.4444's brother and his family. We served it with the usual garlic bread and salad, and we still had this much left over for tomorrow for the Grandmas, and for freezing...Right now, as I type this and look at this photo, I'm saying to myself, "MAN, that sauce is good! Why in the world am I wasting any of it on the swim team, whose members would eat cardboard if I threw sauce on it and called it lasagna?"

Hmm...We do have a lot of leftover boxes from the holidays...

I've gotta run!
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