Do you make your own spaghetti sauce? I do and I follow a recipe that was my mom’s. Now. My mom was English without a drop of Italian blood to her name. Nevertheless, she made damn fine spaghetti sauce. Authentically Italian? Of course not. But truly delicious? You know it.
When I was newly married I told my mom I wanted to make sauce and I wanted her recipe. There was a long pause on the phone and she finally said, “I don’t have a recipe.” I thought she was being secretive and didn’t want to share but what she really meant was that she didn’t have a written recipe because, like most good cooks, it was all stored in her head. We made a plan that I would go and watch the next time she made sauce and that’s what I did. I wrote everything, and I mean everything, down, from the type of hamburger she bought to the brand of tomatoes she used. Of course she didn’t actually measure any of the seasonings but she guesstimated for me and I wrote down those amounts for the garlic, basil, oregano and parsley. In the end, I cobbled together a pretty good recipe for my mom’s sauce.
That was almost 25 years ago and I’ve been making it ever since. Of course, my written notes are long gone and now I have it all stored in my head. I got to thinking, though, that Hannah might want to make her nana’s (and her mom’s) sauce one day so I decided a blog post was in order. Plus, I had a picture of the big vat of sauce I made that I wanted to show you. Ahhh, a blog post is born.
The ratio of ingredients is 1 lb burger, 1 onion, 1 pepper, 8 oz mushrooms, a 29 oz can of tomato sauce and a 29 oz can of tomato puree, plus garlic (preferably fresh), basil, oregano and parsley. The technique is simple: saute the vegetables and garlic in one pan and the meat (with plenty of salt and pepper) in another, mix them together and add in the other spices and the cans of tomato sauce and tomato puree. I usually add a can of tomato paste and a bit of sugar, too. Now, you can make a small batch for one meal but honestly, if you’re going to go to all the trouble to make homemade sauce you might as well make a big pot and that’s just what I did last Sunday.
I like to let the sauce sit for a day so we had spaghetti on Monday night. I shared some with my father-in-law and then froze 12 additional bags of sauce for us to eat over the coming months.
And you know that I will think of my mom every time I pull one of those bags out of the freezer.