Recipe: $7.50 | Per Serving: $0.94 | Yield: 8
I could eat this with a spoon. Ah, who am I kidding? I DID eat this with a spoon. Straight from the pot. And then straight from the fridge, cold.
This is exactly what my nana’s house smells like in a fond, but fuzzy mishmash memory I have of her making meatballs and sauce. Which is funny, because she wasn’t ever one of those Italian grandmas who was known for her cooking. She was Irish, and she was known for sleeping ev.er.y.where.
Memories aside, I don’t know if mushrooms are a normal addition to bolognese, but I always thought they were kind of useless in normal marinara/bolognese sauces. They seem to get lost in the tomato base, so I never tried it myself. But then I had the idea to purposefully lose them in the sauce for two reasons: 1) to reduce the meat, and 2) to boost the umami flavor. SUCCESS STORY.
But then, here I go again putting “sausage” in the title when I’m not making real sausage because it isn’t cured or anything, and I think that’s a pre-requisite (maybe?). Sorry guys, I can’t stop. You can totally replicate the flavor of Italian sausage with these spices and it is awesome.
I first made this sauce when Zac was away on business and I fully intended to save some for him, but over the course of the week (largely due to that wandering spoon), I somehow managed to eat it all. Zucchini boats, sweet potato lasagna, pasta, on toast, with eggs…sauce on all the things.
I hope you make this fantastic sauce and realize that you don’t really have to wait ALL afternoon to make your own red sauce! If you’ve got large pots and storage space, I highly recommend doubling the recipe and saving it for later. And if you decide to make this with “real” sausage instead of the homemade version, you can just reduce the oregano, basil, and fennel by 1/2! (Use just 1/4 teaspoon or each.)Print
- 8 ounces ground meat (beef, pork, lamb, turkey, etc.)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or red pepper flakes)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (or apple cider, rice, etc.)
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, minced
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 14-oz cans tomatoes (depending on how tomato-y you like it! I like 2, some prefer 4!)
- 1/2 cup water or broth (or 2 broth cubes and 1/4 cup water)
- Add ground beef to a large pot over medium-high heat and brown on all sides. (If using a leaner meat, be sure to add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter to the pot first.) You want it to get a little dark and crispy on the bottom. Stir in the spices and mix well.
- Using your food processor (recommended) or a sharp knife/box grater, etc., finely mince the carrot, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chopped vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes, until soft and fragrant. If your pot is tall, not wide, this may take closer to 15 minutes.
- Push the meat and vegetables to the side and “deglaze” the pan by adding the vinegar (or white wine) and scraping up the brown bits. This is the good stuff!
- Add the canned tomato, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup water or broth and stir well.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom.
- After an hour, the sauce is ready – but you can certainly cook it for much longer if you’d prefer. I’d say 1-3 hours should do the trick. If you like a strong tomato-flavored sauce, you can cook it for just 30 minutes, but for a milder, less acidic sauce, cook for at least 1 hour.
- Note: if the sauce sticks, reduce the heat, stir it well and add a little broth or water.