Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Ground beef
Tomato sauce (two 8oz cans)
Tomato paste (one 6oz can)
Spaghetti noodles
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese

It's odd for me to write this recipe down since I've been making it for nearly twenty years and it's extremely simple... but the preponderance of canned and jarred spaghetti sauces leads me to believe it might be helpful to someone. Pre-made spaghetti sauce makes no fucking sense to me... it's like buying a sandwich in a jar. It's much cheaper and better tasting to just make it yourself. The very existence of pre-made spaghetti sauce is an indicator of a huge problem with modern food... some things are just too goddamn convenient. Get up off your ass and learn some shit.
This is a basic meat sauce with lots of potential for variation. You can omit the meat for use with ravioli and on pizza, or substitute the beef for Italian sausage or ground turkey for a spicier or lower fat option.

1. We're going to start by cooking a pound of ground beef, seasoned with Cavender's Greek seasoning. As much as I dislike suggesting one brand over another, Cavender's is an excellent blend of salt, basil, oregano, pepper, and about a dozen other spices that are perfect for most Italian foods, and I highly recommend it. Plus, it's made near my house. Drain your ground beef well once it's sufficiently brown. You might also want to put your biggest pot of water with a dash of vegetable oil over high heat.

2. Combine your sauce and paste in a pot and cook over medium heat. Don't add your spices yet... the heat helps break down the paste to give you a more even sauce.

Once it starts slowly bubbling, stir well and add in your oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Again, this is more art than science, but there's a trick to it: luckily we're working with what I like to call "obvious seasonings" (with the exception of the garlic powder.) You can physically see and smell them in the sauce. You've undoubtedly eaten enough Italian food in your life to know what the sauce should look like, so start small and add in equal parts until it looks right. You don't need much garlic powder... a few shakes will do.

Once you're where you want to be, crank the heat up to medium high and COVER THE FUCKING POT. Tomato sauce boils hard and gets to roughly the temperature of molten lava. It will fly everywhere and burn the fuck out of you if you aren't careful. Once it really gets going, let it bubble for about two minutes before lowering it back down to medium low.

3. Meanwhile, once your water starts boiling, add in your spaghetti noodles. They should take between eight and ten minutes to cook to perfection. Unless you have a huge fucking pot, the noodles will begin with about half sticking out of the water. This is fine, provided you get them submerged as soon as the lower half softens a bit, otherwise you'll literally have half done noodles.
I'd also like to take a moment to remind you of the proper way to test the doneness of pasta (Step 2 under Cooking). If you're tempted to throw your food against the wall, just stick your hand in the pot with the noodles. That feeling will quickly subside.

4. Once your tomato sauce has calmed down, carefully remove the lid and immediately begin to stir (which ensures it won't bubble all over the place). Add in your ground beef, mix well, and put the cover back on. Raise the heat to medium and let your sauce get nice and acquainted for a few minutes.

5. Once your noodles and sauce are finished (bonus points if you finish them at the same time), combine and add on your Parmesan cheese. After you've eaten this spaghetti, I defy you to return to the jarred stuff.


  1. I must have Spaghetti.
    This is one of the first meals my two older kids have learned/are learning how to cook.

  2. I love home made sauce. Hello delicious.