Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is one of those things that I grabbed while I was grocery shopping, for years.  Until one day it dawned on me, I could just as easily make mine at home!  All you need is some tomato sauce, some herbs (dried and fresh, if you can!), and a protein of your choice, or just leave it as a meatless sauce, and that's just one step closer to goodness!  I also have a secret ingredient that is subtle, but will leave you scratching your head, going, "Well.....why didn't I think of that?"
This recipe is so easy, I debated on whether to even post it.  However, I figured it might inspire some people who still buy the jarred stuff to give it a try, so why not?  This spaghetti sauce can come together very quickly, although it does get better the longer you let it simmer.  I normally will start my sauce about two hours before I'm ready to eat, but today I started it about five hours ahead of time.  This also freezes beautifully, so it is great to make a double batch, and freeze half, for an even quicker supper in the future.
Here's the grocery list for today:
1 (28 oz) can of tomato sauce, or a nice, homemade tomato sauce
1.5 lbs ground chuck
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 TBS tomato paste
2 C beef stock
1 TBS each dried herbs of choice (I used oregano, basil, thyme, parsley flakes)
2-3 dried bay leaves
Fresh parsley
 3 chunks of Parmesan rinds

Yep.  You read that correctly.  Parmesan rinds.  I have a grocery store that grates their own Parmesan cheese, so I called them one day, and asked if they had any rinds leftover, which they did, and they set them aside for me.  The Parmesan rinds add a really nice subtle flavor to the sauce, and a nice silky texture;  however, be careful with adding salt to this dish, as the Parmesan does add salt to the sauce!
How yummy does this look?  You want to grab a fork and dive in?  I know I do!  Lets get started!  (Want to learn how to make this pasta?  Click here to check out my post on fresh pasta!)
I'm extremely lazy efficient with my time, so instead of mincing up 6 cloves of garlic, I just put them in a little 2 cup food processor, and give 'em a whirl.  All minced up in a matter of seconds!  I must say, we do love garlic in our vampires here!  Once that is finished, I set it aside, and put my ground chuck in a pan that has been preheated over a medium high heat for a few minutes.  I like to use ground chuck, because the meat cooks down to a very fine texture.  If you like larger pieces of meat in your sauce, a ground beef (80/20) would work nicely here, too.

Once my ground chuck is all browned off, I scoop it out with a slotted spoon, and deposit it into a waiting bowl.  This way, I can wipe the pan out with a paper towel, and not have to worry about picking up a heavy pan with hot grease, to pour it out.  


Once the pan has been degreased, by whatever method you choose, add in the tomato paste, and let it cook over medium high heat, for 2-3 minutes, to help get rid of the canned taste.  Once that is finished, add in your minced garlic, and cook it down for another minute.
Once the garlic and tomato paste have finished cooking, add in the tomato sauce. 

Stir all of these in, and cook for another 3 minutes, just until the bay leaves start to soften slightly.  Add in the ground chuck, and stir well, then add in the beef stock.  

Parmesan cheese rinds really add a flavor that won't scream Parmesan, but they will add a flavor that will make everyone go, "Wow, what is that?"  Put these rinds into your sauce; the rinds won't melt into the sauce, so be careful when serving it, to not put a hunk of cheese on someone's plate!  Or, you could do as we do, and say whoever gets a hunk of cheese, or bay leaf, has to do the dishes!  

This is my sauce, after it has cooked for about 3 hours, covered.  I bring my sauce up to a simmer over medium high heat, cover it, then lower the heat to almost the lowest level, and let it go all afternoon.  If you notice your sauce getting too thick, you can either add water to it, or more beef stock.
Just before serving, stir in some fresh parsley, for a nice pop of color, and bright flavor to the sauce.  I'm sorry about the shaky picture here, I was ready to eat!!