In my gigantic blended family that includes children ages one to twenty, there are only a few things we cook that everyone enjoys. My meat sauce is versatile, stores easily, and is delicious. It does use alcohol and that could be omitted if you abstain or are sensitive to it—though tomatoes include alcohol-soluble flavors that really benefit from my three-booze solution. Me? I start with a Jamietini since the vodka is out already and enjoy a glass of dry red with my food. Yum!
Jamie’s Awesome Sauce
Non-reactive saucier or sauce pan
Skillet for browning meat
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can, tomato sauce (only use as needed)
2 lb. ground beef (browned)
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 garlic pieces, minced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (thin layer to coat bottom of sauce pan, and a few tablespoons later for flavor)
Ketchup * (2 healthy squirts)
Vodka (heavy splash)
Dry Red Wine (cabernet, merlot, or chianti—a heavy splash)
Dry White Wine (chardonnay or pinot grigio—a heavy splash)
Salt, Kosher (3-4 heavy pinches, added throughout cooking)
Spices: garlic powder (about 4 tablespoons), onion powder (about 2 tablespoons)
Dried Herbs: Parsley (about 3 tablespoons), Basil (about 2 tablespoons), Oregano (about 1 tablespoon), mixed italian blend (2-3 tablespoons)
PROCEDURE (total cooking time roughly 30 minutes)
Brown the ground beef with a heavy pinch of salt, drain, set aside.
In the sauce pan coat the bottom with olive oil over low-to-medium heat, then add the chopped onion with a heavy pinch of salt. Sweat for 3 minutes—do not brown! (If the sizzling sound is loud, turn your heat down, you only want to soften the aromatics.) Add the garlic and sweat for an additional two minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, a heavy pinch of salt, and stir. Turn up the heat just below medium, then add generous splashes of vodka, white wine, and red wine, stir. Add in the ketchup, spices, and herbs. Finally stir in the fully-cooked meat. Taste to adjust seasonings and check consistency. Add as much tomato sauce as needed to both make the sauce as thick/thin as you prefer—plus to soften strong flavors like too much salt or garlic. If the sauce tastes too sweet, add a little extra salt, red wine, parsley. If you want more sweetness, add white wine and basil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and stir regularly, taste every so often. Lastly drizzle a little olive oil just as you turn off the heat and stir it in.
The picture above is the sauce served on a homemade cracker baked out of pure parmesan cheese. This sauce can be used for your favorite pasta or in a lasagna or on just about everything except a bowl of ice cream. It tastes even better after a few days in the fridge and can be frozen in bags to pull out when needed! You’re welcome.
* Surprised about the ketchup? The times I’ve been out or tried to do without it, something is just missing. May seem low-class but it’s like the secret ingredient that separates this from other vodka-tomato sauce recipes. Try it!