Don’t fear the flavor

I’ve heard from quite a few people about my Sunday column in The News & Observer. Apparently, “Spice Hoarders” could be a new show on cable. Y’all just don’t want to turn loose of those cans marked 75 cents with labels from defunct supermarkets. (And, cans? Spices haven’t been sold in metal cans since the Carter administration. At least the rust might give the arid contents some flavor.)

What surprised me were the pleas for the spaghetti sauce recipe I referred to. It’s nothing fancy, really, but it can help you abandon the tyranny of the jarred sauce. The secret is to load it up with plenty of flavor. That means letting go of those ancient jars. This recipe is also merely a starting point for you. I’ve rarely measured this myself, just scooped heaping spoons of herbs into it. Add more or less of things you don’t like, or omit the meat for a vegetarian sauce. Heck, throw in some spinach. This recipe makes a ton of sauce and it freezes great.

Spaghetti Sauce with Lots of Flavor

A couple of tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

3 links Italian sausage, sliced

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (I use Furmano’s or San Marzano brands. I have used an equivalent amount of chopped tomatoes from my freezer if I had time to freeze them during the summer)

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

3 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried marjoram

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 teaspoons dried aleppo pepper (you could substitute the dried red pepper that you shake on pizza, but it may be hotter)

Salt to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium. Cook the onions and garlic just until they are soft. Don’t let them brown. In a separate skillet, brown the ground beef and sausage and drain very well. Add the tomatoes and paste to the saucepan and stir. Stir in all the herbs and pepper, then stir in the well-drained meats. Stir in about 2 cups of water, or enough to make the sauce not extremely thick. Taste, then add salt (I start with about 1/2 teaspoon). Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Let it simmer for at least 1 hour – 2 hours is better. Check after an hour or so, and if the sauce seems too thick, add more water. Taste and see if it needs more salt.


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One Response to “Don’t fear the flavor”

  • Comment from Terri

    Wow, get new spices & then use enough so you can taste them is a pretty radical idea. But no sugar? You might get run out of town.

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