I really enjoy a hearty meat sauce. Simple ingredients, almost…plain. More than that though, I love my Mom’s meat sauce.
Growing up I remember her browning the meat as I would get ready for school, chopping the veggies quickly and throwing all the ingredients into her crock pot. It’s one of maybe ten dishes I distinctively remember from my childhood. Another one is a three bean chili I refused to eat for no good reason. (Sorry, Mom.)
I made a batch of the meat sauce this weekend for friends who came over to enjoy the Oscars and was proud when, in the final taste test, it tasted just like I remembered. I even called my Mom to tell her, “No worries…I’ve done right by your meat sauce. Everything tastes as it should.” People went back for seconds. Leftovers were handed out for lunch the next day. It was a rare moment when dinner seemed to come together effortlessly and everyone was content and full with food.
I told you when I made Alton Brown’s meat sauce that my Mom’s is better (and much easier). So here we go. The recipe is like a mom’s recipe should be…from memory and loose. Don’t get frustrated when I say for the 500th time, “to taste.” Just…keep tasting…and adjusting slowly but surely.
Recipe after the jump!
PS – Okay, so I realize I haven’t been posting actual pictures of the food lately. Like most people, I go through phases. Right now, thanks to winter light (dark by 6pm) and my general desire to eat the food I make as quickly as possible, or that I’m taking the food I make to parties, I haven’t been snapping (pretty) pictures of any of it lately. For this I apologize but I hope you’ll stick with me through this fickle phase. I promise. I’ll get back photographing my creations soon. Until then, I’ve gone the way of Apron Anxiety with a Kitchen Porn twist, which I don’t think is all that bad.
My Mom’s Meat Sauce
- 2lbs lean ground beef
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped in 1 inch pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped in 1 inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic smashed (more if you like)
- 2 cans (15oz) whole tomatoes
- 2 cans (15oz) tomato sauce
- 2 cans (6oz) tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried basil (to start)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (to start)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt & pepper (to taste)
You’ll need a large crock pot for this. Maybe 5 or 6 quarts.
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until just brown.
While beef is cooking, chop the bell peppers and onions, smash the garlic and transfer them into your crock pot. Dump the two cans of whole tomatoes into the crock pot and break them apart using your hands. Nothing exact! Just smoosh them up. Dump the two cans of tomato sauce in as well. Add only one can of the tomato paste, reserve the other can for later. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked ground beef to the mixture (you don’t want too much of the fat drippings). Add the bay leaf, basil, oregano, a couple pinches of salt and a couple pinches of pepper. Give it a good stir. It’s going to look like there is WAY too much stuff in the pot, including too much meat. Don’t worry! Trust the recipe (aka Mom).
Mom says to turn your crock pot on to “high” for about 2 hours, then turn it down to “low” and let it sit for at least 4 hours. If you can’t do that, no biggie, just turn it on to “low” and be done with it.
At the 4 hour mark you’ll want to check on things. Give the sauce a good stir and taste a bit. Here’s your chance to adjust! Is it soupy? If so, add the other can of tomato paste. Add more basil, oregano, salt (garlic salt if you like) and pepper depending on how things are tasting. Give it good stir, close things up and let it sit for another 2 hours.
After 6 hours of simmering, your meat sauce is done! Give it one last good taste, add some salt and pepper if you need to, otherwise you’re done! Cook up the pasta shape of your choice and top it with the meat sauce.
Hopefully you and your dinner guests enjoy it as much as me and mine!