Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grandmother's Spaghetti

I grew up eating this spaghetti and thoroughly believing that THIS is what spaghetti should be. It was my grandmother's recipe but my grandfather made a mean batch too. I loved it and I would happily slurp it down whenever it was up for dinner. (Over to the right, that would be me - and my side-pony tail - along with my wonderful grandparents on picture day in grade school. Gotta love the 80's.)

Truthfully, I had a very hard time eating pasta of any other kind. Alfredo sauce tended to be much too creamy and rich. Traditional spaghetti sauce (you know, the meatless, tomato-saucy, chunk-less kind) just seemed so boring and thin. And, at the time, ricotta and I hadn't made friends so I wasn't a fan of most filled pastas.

Of course, over the years, I've turned into a huge foodie and now there aren't too many pastas that I don't love and ricotta and I get along very nicely. But as much as I love all the incarnations that pasta, sauces and Italian food can take, there is something about this version. It's just so comforting, so homey, so satisfying and hearty.

The following are some notes on the recipe: Now that I know more about food, I realize that it's not very traditional spaghetti sauce. First of all, it's a meat sauce and there are no huge chunks of stewed tomatoes . . . thank GOD. It also includes onions (fairly traditional) and green peppers (not so much) as the base vegetables. If you are a green pepper hater, no worries. My husband is too but I make sure to dice them up very small and cook until very tender and he doesn't even know they are in there.

There is also Worcestershire sauce, which may be a strange ingredient to some. But I am convinced that it is what makes the sauce. It adds SUCH a richness and depth of flavor. YUM. There is also quite a bit of garlic but keep in mind this recipe makes a TON of sauce. My grandparents used to add the cloves in whole, simmer them forever in the sauce and then remove them. But I LOVE garlic, so I decided to mince the cloves, saute them with the veggies and let them impart all their garlic-y goodness. Feel free to cut back if you're scared.


Grandma's Spaghetti Sauce
(Original Recipe by Layne)
serves 8-10, generously

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 lb ground beef
29 oz. tomato sauce (or 2 15 oz. cans)
12 oz. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Dice onion and green pepper and mince the garlic. Add olive oil to a large stock pot and place over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic and green pepper in oil until tender and fragrant, stir frequently to prevent sticking and over-browning. Crumble ground beef into pot and cook until beef is browned and cooked through.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato sauce and tomato paste and water. Mix well. Add black pepper and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Allow sauce to simmer for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve over spaghetti (we prefer whole wheat), perhaps with a side of garlic bread, and enjoy!