Spaghetti and meatballs was a staple food in our house growing up. We would make big pots of the stuff, which would turn into dinners (and meatball-sandwich lunches) for a week or more. It also freezes well; big containers could be dropped into the freezer for use later (very handy to have, when you know cooking time will be short). This sauce recipe is spicy and very savory, it doesn’t have any sweetness to it like many other recipes and many store-bought brands do. It’s a favorite in our family, maybe yours will like it too. Next time I’ll talk about the all-important meatballs.
- Cans of Tomato Sauce (We always use Hunts by tradition, but I suspect the exact brand may not matter).
- Seasonings: Garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, bay leaf
- Green Bell Pepper
- Olive Oil
Add the olive oil to the pot, about a tablespoon per can of sauce you plan to use. Dice up some garlic, I used 5 cloves. Add the garlic, about 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, about 1/2 tsp oregano and a generous portion of fresh ground black pepper to the pot. Bring the ingredients up to a sizzle over medium heat, stirring to keep the garlic from burning or browning. You want to get flavor out of these ingredients without burning anything. Burnt garlic is going to add a bitter flavor to the sauce which will basically ruin it. Err on the side of less cooking, if you’re not sure. This part of the recipe will go quickly, and should be basically done by the time you’ve opened your cans of sauce.
Open your cans of sauce and add them to the pot. Keep in mind that meatballs are going to add a lot of volume, so if you fill the pot too high with sauce you’re not going to have enough space to add all your meatballs (or chicken, or sausage, or whatever meats you’re adding). Stir the sauce to incorporate the oil and seasonings. Add basil (I did about 1Tbsp), and salt to taste. Wash a green bell pepper, cut it in half, remove the ribs and seeds, and put half of the pepper in the sauce. Add a bayleaf as well.
Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes. Taste the sauce occasionally. When it’s peppery enough, remove and discard the green pepper and bay leaf.
At this point you can add whatever meat to your sauce that you’ll be using. Meatballs are what I’ll be focusing on in my next post, but you can definitely add italian sausage (sweet and/or hot) and chicken. We usually like to fry up the sausage first and add it, already cooked, to the sauce in 4-inch chunks. Chicken can likewise be fried or baked. All meats can be added to sauce raw, and cooked by boiling the soup for about 20 minutes or more, which can add a certain flavor profile but all the grease and drippings from the meet end up directly in the sauce as well. Next time I’ll talk more about meatballs.