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The Classic American Meat Sauce

This is the most perfect version of a classic American Red Sauce. This is that spaghetti sauce you hope comes to your table at a red cloth type joint. It's rich without being too heavy, and the tomato flavor is still bright and delicious. The recipe is an iteration on what I grew up eating, and I could never get tired of eating it.


28oz can crushed tomato

24oz jar tomato puree (28oz works as well)

20g tomato paste

1 white onion

2 large carrots

2 celery stalks

4-8 garlic cloves

1lb ground beef

1lb mild italian sausage

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili flake

Large sprig of basil

8oz dried pasta

Step 1: Veggie Prep

Chop your onion into a medium fine dice and do the same to your celery. Peel the carrots and then grate them on the large side of a box grater. Mince your garlic (grate them on a microplane) and set these apart from the other veggies.

Step 2: Brown your Meat

Get your dutch oven or large pot heating over medium high and once it’s hot, add in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add in one package of ground beef and one package of ground sausage then begin breaking it down with a wooden spoon. Once it’s broken down let it sit while all the water cooks out. Over medium high heat, this is going to take at least a few minutes to even start to brown. First the water cooks out, then the meat will begin to fry, and then you start to see browning. If you want the most flavorful sauce, you need this meat to brown. I think people often underestimate how long this process really takes, don’t settle for gray meats. Season this with salt and pepper once it’s browned and remove it from the pan, but leave as much of the oil as possible.

Step 3: Cook your Veg

In the same pan, add in your soffritto (onion, celery, carrot) and season that with salt and pepper. These should leach out enough water to bring up any brown bits left from the meat. Let the veggies cook down in that hot oil until softened and you start to see just the slightest bit of color. Add in your garlic once this is cooked so it doesn’t burn. Keep a little bit of water around in case any of the pan starts to get a little dark. Add in your tomato paste, mix it into the softened veggies, and let that turn slightly darker. Tomato paste tastes pretty metallic before it’s been cooked, so this removes some of that acrid metal taste. Add in your can of crushed tomatoes along with the tomato puree and then refill the can with water and add that.

Step 4: Season and Simmer

Season your pot with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili flake. Amounts are up to your palette, so go with your gut. 1/4 tsp is a good starting point for each, but adjust from there. Scrape up any bits left on the bottom, give your pot a few good stirs and bring this up to a simmer. Drop the heat down to low, this is going to need a while to cook and meld. Add in a large sprig of basil and cover the pot for roughly an hour. Taste this at the hour mark to see how everything is progressing for you. This is also the time to remove your basil sprig, it's given all the flavor it can. If the veggies need more time to soften, throw this on for another 30 minutes. That time could be uncovered if you desire a thicker sauce.

Step 5: Cook you Pasta

As your sauce reaches completion, cook your pasta in seasoned boiling water according to the box (I usually go to the lowest time listed). Drain your pasta once it's al dente and toss with a little of the sauce to keep the pasta from sticking. Serve this with heaps more sauce and enjoy the most nostalgic sauce I could think of. Grated parm is really the only thing I could serve this with, except maybe some dry breadsticks...




Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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