Spaghetti with Italian Meat Sauce

Italian Meat Sauce

I had a craving for homemade slow-simmered spaghetti with meat sauce so I started looking for recipes online. Then I realized that the other day I had starred a recipe for meat sauce that Annie featured on her blog. Hmmm…seems like we have similar tastes because I keep starring recipes that she has featured! Anyway the original recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated which is one source that I ALWAYS can count on for amazing recipes. The recipe was delicious with a few slight spice additions that I made. Also, it doesn’t call for you to slow-simmer the sauce for hours but I did anyway. I feel like it can’t hurt…all it does is blend the flavors that much better! I was surprised by how thick the sauce was but it helped it adhere to the pasta really well.

Simple Italian Meat Sauce


Except for ground round (which tasters found spongy and bland), this recipe will work with most types of ground beef, as long as it is 85 percent lean. (Eighty percent lean beef will turn the sauce greasy; 90 percent will make it fibrous.) Use high-quality crushed tomatoes; our favorite brands are Tuttorosso, Muir Glen Organic, and Hunt’s Organic. If using dried oregano, add the entire amount with the canned tomato liquid in step 2. The sauce makes enough for nearly 2 pounds of pasta. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Makes about 6 cups

4 ounces white mushrooms , cleaned, stems trimmed, and broken into rough pieces
1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into quarters
2 tablespoons whole milk 
  Table salt and ground black pepper 
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef (see note and related content)
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used more-probably a full teaspoon b/c we love spicy!)

I also added about 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp dried basil, and 1/2 tsp onion powder…it would have been bland without these additions, in my opinion!

1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves  or 1 teaspoon dried oregano (see note)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)

1. Process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down side of bowl as needed; transfer to medium bowl. Add bread, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to now-empty food processor and process until paste forms, about eight 1-second pulses. Add beef and pulse until mixture is well combined, about six 1-second pulses (I didn’t add the beef to the food processor b/c we only brought our mini-processor to Arizona with us. I just mixed the milk/bread mixture in with the beef by stirring with a wooden spoon in a bowl).

2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are browned and dark bits form on pan bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant and tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato liquid and 2 teaspoons fresh oregano (if using dried, add full amount), scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add meat mixture and cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until beef loses its raw color, 2 to 4 minutes, making sure that meat does not brown.

3. Stir in crushed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and gently simmer until sauce has thickened and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes (I simmered on low heat for about 3 hours). Stir in cheese and remaining teaspoon fresh oregano; season with salt and pepper to taste.Source: Cook’s Illustrated

I took this picture to show the ridiculous portion of food Alex put on his plate but it ended up being a really cool action shot of him grating fresh parm! 🙂

Italian Meat Sauce


One Response to “Spaghetti with Italian Meat Sauce”

  1. Deborah Says:

    I love spaghetti with a good meat sauce. This reminds me that it’s been way too long since I’ve had it!

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