Sunday, March 7, 2010

The best spaghetti meat sauce in the world!!

What? Do you think I jest? How can I make such a claim?

Because, quite frankly, I love my spaghetti sauce. I could eat it every day and am sure Jim would be delighted with the prospect. My credentials? I've never been to Italy, but lived for a good long while in southwestern CT (where good Italian food is the norm), and was even married during that time to a part Italian guy. I'd rather cook it than go out for it unless it's pizza or Cafe Vignole, our awesome local Tuscan eatery.

This sauce isn't just for spaghetti either -- try using it for lasagna or even as a pizza base. It's really good in an all-pork version; not so much with TVM. You use fewer herbs and spices because of the long cooking period. Also, because you cook it in the oven and not on the stovetop, the sauce cooks very evenly and the pot is easy to clean. Just remember, although it would be difficult to burn the sauce using this cooking method, you CAN overdo it -- the sauce will just be more concentrated if you let it go for longer than 12 hours.

Damn Delicious Spaghetti Meat Sauce
Makes about 16 quarts

3 lbs ground pork
3 lbs lean ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
2 heads of garlic, minced
3 #10 size cans of S&W crushed tomatoes with puree (#10 can is about 106 oz.)
1 #10 size can of S&W diced tomatoes
2 heaping T of beef base (Better Than Bouillon or McCormick)
1 liter (4-1/4 cups) burgundy wine
3 T of Italian-type herb mix or 1 T each of oregano and basil, 1 t of sage
1 T crushed red pepper
1 t fennel
1 bay leaf, optional
3 T kosher salt

Preheat oven to 275 degF. In a heavy 16 qt. stock pot, brown the pork, chopping it up into bits while it fries. Remove the pork, draining the grease but leaving a little behind in the pot to brown the beef. When the beef is halfway cooked, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Dissolve the beef base in the wine, then add it to the pot along with the canned tomatoes and seasonings. Stir everything well. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 12 hours. After 12 hours, turn the oven off, remove the lid and use clean paper towels to soak up any extra grease floating on top. Stir well and adjust the seasoning if needed (it needs to taste a little on the salty side). Put the lid back on and return to the oven to sit until cooled (overnight is good). The cooling period helps to further meld and develop the flavors. Stir well again and remove the bay leaf if you find it.

To freeze, ladle into quart-sized plastic containers, leaving about 1/2" space at the top. To thaw, microwave the container on high for 2-3 minutes then empty into a glass/ceramic bowl. Continue to microwave on high, using a fork to chop up the frozen sauce and stirring every 3 minutes until heated through.