Alton Brown’s Meat Sauce

Talk about a case of culinary excess.

Okay, here’s a question. You’re faced with a recipe that has an ingredient list the size of the New York phone book. Not really…but 23 ingredients. TWENTY THREE! What kind of food do you think you’re about to make? Thai? A complex, authentic Chinese dish? A deep, rich Mexican mole?

No. Alton Brown’s meat sauce.

Alton Brown...he's smirking because his meat sauce is ridiculous.

Why was I making this in the first place? Twitter. It’s a beast. @DarthGarry had tipped me off that he’d made the sauce and thought it was delicious…and basically challenged me to make it. I’m always up for a challenge and after he reminded me several times to make it (especially after I had announced my purchase of a dutch oven) it was on like donkey kong.

I reserved this adventure for a Sunday evening. I resolved to follow the recipe to the “t” as much as possible – even though I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. Ever. After reading the recipe and the time it would take to complete each step, I realized, this was a FIVE HOUR endeavor.

I know what Alton was trying to do here. With each step he is trying to extract the fullest and richest flavors out of each ingredient going into the pot.  He also has a touch of delusion mixed in there. Because I hardly tasted the 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce or the 1 tablespoon of ketchup. If unnecessary ingredients like this make or break your dish, well, you have bigger issues to tackle. Other steps just felt fussy and unnecessary.

There is an upside to all this complaining though. The sauce is delicious. I just don’t think it’s worth five hours of my time. My mother has an equally delicious meat sauce recipe that calls for a day of slow cooking in a crock pot. Prep takes about 20 minutes of opening cans of various tomato products, browning meat and chopping veggies. Dump it all in the crock pot and you’re done for the day. That’s my kind of meat sauce!

I’m not going to publish the recipe, because you can find it here. Also because I’m going to make my mom’s meat sauce for you all and publish that recipe instead. Be on the look out!


10 thoughts on “Alton Brown’s Meat Sauce

  1. Thanks for being up to the challenge Alejandra! I agree fully, it is laborious. For me it was more like a project than a recipe and the just rewards came after a lot of work, but I am exceedingly interested in the 20 minute prep version because, honestly, I could not make this sauce (with its titanic ingredients list) on a regular basis. Look on the bright side though, it made your house smell like bacon!

    Okay, I threw down the gauntlet with the meat sauce, I’m awaiting your return salvo of a challenging recipe to try!

    Garry (@DarthGarry)

  2. I generally pass on recipes with too many ingredients. That’s why I almost never do any of Emeril’s (8 ingredients for the “essence” alone-no thanks!). But this sauce does sound good — though I’d much rather see your mom’s recipe. WH loves meat sauce and I have yet to find a recipe to my liking.

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  5. Haha… My boyfriend requested this sauce for Valentine’s Day dinner.. so I have made it for him. I’m actually a vegetarian/vegan chef.. and even I KNOW many of the steps are freaken ridiculous! .. but out of love for him, I made it. It is finishing up now as I type this. I am a vegetarian, so I won’t be trying it. I am, however, wanting to create my own, simple meat sauce to show him that it can be just as good! I’m going to check out your mom’s recipe.

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