This easy meat sauce takes just a few minutes of prep and then a low simmer on the stove for a deep, meaty-flavored, classic spaghetti everyone will love.
This post is brought to you by Kroger
Before I even started writing this post I was wrestling with the title.
My Sister’s Favorite Spaghetti Dinner. Because as a kid it was #1 on her request list. And to do this day, all these years later and after eating meals from all over the world, it still is.
My Mom’s Best Spaghetti Recipe Ever! Because it is. And, who doesn’t trust mom to make the best?
The Best Spaghetti and Meat Sauce You’ll Ever Make But Never Guess the Secret Ingredient. Intrigued????
The Dinner to Make When You Want to Perfume Your House With All the Glorious Smells and Then Feed an Army. Perhaps a little lengthy for a title, but still totally appropriate.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce So Good You’ll Eat the Cold Leftovers Still in the Container Straight from the Fridge. Uh-oh, did I just give myself away????? Busted!
I had my sister text me her copy of my mom’s spaghetti recipe, as seen above and proof my sister is this recipe’s number one fan (and it looks like she’s also quite the stellar recipe tester!)
I wrote the recipe down years ago and plopped it into my tattered recipe binder. Eventually I’d made it so many times I committed it to memory. But as time passed it didn’t taste quite as good as my mom’s, a fact I didn’t actually realize until she made us all her original version when my sister was visiting. (Naturally my sister got to choose her favorite dish for dinner, because hello, she’s still the favorite :) )
That dinner is when I realized I was missing one very crucial ingredient that makes this spaghetti so special, and isn’t often found in spaghetti sauce. Have you spied it yet? I’ll reveal in a minute, but first, let’s talk basics…
About the Recipe
This it the type of recipe you can easily have at the ready thanks to a simply stocked pantry and a few foundation refrigerator ingredients I can always find at my local Smith’s Marketplace / Kroger store.
Since working with Kroger for the past few years and because it is my main grocery store for shopping (I spend way too much time wandering the garden section!) I’ve become more and more impressed with the quality of their private label store brands like Simple Truth, HemisFares and Private Selection. And the design geek in me is happy to see the evolution of package design for their staple Kroger brand so that the label matches the goodness within. What can I say? Labels matter.
My mom’s recipe for the spaghetti and meat sauce doesn’t call for anything extraordinary. In fact, it’s totally basic, and that’s what makes it all the better.
- Hamburger. I use 85% lean ground angus beef for my sauce so it still has flavor but not a lot of fat. My sister has taken to using ground turkey, also a great option.
- Tomato sauce. Plain is best to create a tomato bath for the other ingredients to infuse.
- Diced tomatoes. You could use canned whole tomatoes and then crush with your hands and fingers. But mom’s recipe says diced so that’s what I do.
- Tomato paste. This gives the sauce it’s body, and also a little sweetness.
- Beef broth. Another layer of meatiness. My sister amended her recipe to use condensed, but I used regular here.
- Canned mushrooms. Typically I will always use fresh mushrooms in recipes, but this is one time I never, ever, ever do. There’s just something about the canned version that becomes my favorite part of the sauce, and the reason I typically double the amount the recipe calls for.
- A splash of wine. Mom says to use the empty mushroom can as your measurement guide.
- Onion, celery and fresh garlic. They’re always lollying around the refrigerator crisper waiting to be used.
- Dried herbs, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar for sweetness. Don’t skip out on the bay leaves, they make a huge difference.
And the Secret Ingredient…
- Dried whole cloves! My mom learned this trick from her friend Virginia, and adding a few whole cloves was the secret ingredient I’d been missing lo these many years. My mom uses 5-6 cloves but my husband prefers four. The cloves give it an earthy, spiced flavor that’s not often easy to place. It’s a total surprise when I tell people they’re in there, or if they discover one on their own hidden in their spaghetti-sauced bite if I forget or can’t find them to fish them out before serving.
We always serve this meat sauce with regular spaghetti noodles but I imagine it would be just as good with any other twirly pasta, or over tortellini or ravioli or even as a filler for lasagna.
This recipe makes a lot so it’s great for serving to a crowd or a big family. If you’re making for two or a few, it makes excellent leftovers for lunch all week long or divide the sauce into gallon freezer and save for later.
What to Serve with Spaghetti and Meat Sauce to Make The Meal
We always serve this with a super crunchy iceberg salad tossed with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and dressed in my favorite red wine vinaigrette and a few slices of buttery garlic bread. If you’re looking for a little bit more, here’s a few recipe ideas to make your meal.
Wine. Plenty of wine.
If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats
My Mom's Homemade Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 4 stalks celery chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 1 29- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 29- ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- 2 7- ounce cans sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 15- ounce can beef broth
- 5-6 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 4 teaspoons dried
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried spaghetti noodles
- Grated Parmesan cheese
In a large heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat, cook the ground beef until browned, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the rendered fat and add the meat back to the pot. Add the chopped onion, celery and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften, about 5-7 more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, stir and cover with a lid, and cook for at least three hours on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in generously salted water. Drain and mix into the spaghetti sauce. Serve with grated or ground Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley if desired.
This post is in partnership with Kroger. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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