• April 20, 2018

    Best-Ever Simple Meat Sauce

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    spaghetti meat sauce recipe

    This easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe will satisfy all of your homey, cozy, I-need-a-hug-in-a-bowl-of-pasta feelings. It’s deeply flavourful and richly tomatoey. The recipe is simple. Nothing fancy. Just regular old ground beef  like your mom made, no wine, no veal or pork or sausage. Just exactly the comfort food you want.

    I cringe whenever a blogger uses “the best” to describe anything. Then from time to time, I do it myself, too. (I accept that you all are cringing.) Make the meat sauce anyway, and then you’ll understand.

    How To Make Meat Sauce

    The secret to making *truly* the best meat sauce – is all in the technique.

    Start with a generous glug of olive oil. Fat carries flavour, friends, don’t be shy. Add the onions, add some salt, and cook lovingly until completely soft. No rush. Garlic goes in for a minute. Then the beef. More salt. (Seasoning at every step a key.)

    Now with the meat, the goal is not just “cooked”. We are not stopping when it’s no longer pink. We aim to coax as much delicious, caramelized flavour from that mince as possible. You cook it until it (1) is cooked through, (2) renders its fat and then (3) browns beautifully.

    Then you add tomato paste. And guess what? You need to brown that, too. Raw tomato paste has a tinny, acidic taste. But give it a few minutes on high heat to darken and caramelize the beautiful tomato sugars and magic happens.  I never skip cooking out my tomato paste in any application, and it makes a huge difference.

    Next, you add tomato puree. (I whiz a can of diced tomatoes in my blender, but you could just buy the puree.) Another pinch of salt.

    And FINALLY, you simmer. Covered. There’s not much liquid, so you don’t want to lose any by leaving the lid off. Turn the heat down low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes at least, or for a few hours, if you’ve got all day. The result will be the best unfancy meat sauce you’ve ever made.

    Feel free to stir in some fresh basil at the end if you like, but not necessary.

    I felt like I majorly owed you a savoury recipe. I’ve been baking my tail off lately!

    The Best Meat Sauce Recipe

    The Best Spaghetti Meat Sauce

    This spaghetti meat sauce recipe will satisfy all of your homey, cozy, I-need-a-hug-in-a-bowl-of-pasta feelings. It's deeply flavourful and richly tomatoey. The recipe is simple. Nothing fancy. Just regular old ground beef  like your mom made, no wine, no veal or pork or sausage. Just exactly the comfort food you want. 
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
    Course: Dinner
    Cuisine: Italian
    Servings: 8
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 large onion minced
    • 1 tsp coarse salt
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 3/4 lbs ground beef
    • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
    • 1 6- oz 156 mL can tomato paste
    • 1 28- oz 796 mL can unsalted tomatoes (pureed)
    • About 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt


    • Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 tsp salt and cook until very soft, about 12 minutes. 
    • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add beef and increase heat to high. Season with another 1/2 tsp salt and cook until well browned (it'll take a while).
    • Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens a shade and smells toasty, about 5 minutes.
    • Stir in pureed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Taste and add remaining salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes or up to a few hours, stirring every now and then and keeping it at a bare simmer.
    Tried this recipe?tag @foodess
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    Hi, I'm Jennifer Pallian, BSc, RD. I studied cooking, baking and food chemistry in a university lab, have years of experience as a professional test kitchen recipe developer and providing technical baking support to bakeries and home bakers. Want to know why your bread didn't rise? I've got your back.I now work full-time as a blogger, putting the years of science and baking to work right here. On Foodess, I share the best recipes in my arsenal - tested-till-PERFECT recipes for cozy baking, easy recipes for weeknight meals and delicious globally-inspired comfort food, plus lots of science-based cooking and baking tips. Welcome!

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    5 stars
    This is sooo good and simple!! My sauces always used to be bland and blah before this. The browning of the paste and meat make a big difference! Thank you!


    5 stars
    Great recipe! Im making it again today, but would like to add some veggies (carrot, bell pepper, zucchini). Any suggestion where in the process to add them in? Thx!


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