My (and the Kids) Favorite Meat Sauce

I recently shared a recipe for Kid Friendly Casserole that contained green beans, which most kids like.
A reader, though, said the hotdish looked good but wondered if the beans could be pureed, so they would fly under her daughter’s kid-dar. I wrote back and said that probably would work. And I have some information that will back my thinking.
I make a meat sauce for pasta (we had it just last night) that my grandkids just love — and so does Therese. It’s simple to make and contains a couple of vegetables that some kids probably wouldn’t tolerate. And that includes my grandkids.
But I’ve found a way to get them to eat the sauce and even request seconds. I put the vegetables — carrots, mushrooms, onion and garlic — through a food processor so they’re indistinguishable when they’re mixed in with the browned ground meat, diced tomatoes and paste.
The recipe is one that I found in a cookbook and have tweaked. Instead of using thyme, which Therese doesn’t like, I use basil and oregano. I also triple the amount of sugar. I’ve found that to be the ingredient that separate a good tomato-based sauce from a great one.
My (and the Kids) Favorite Meat Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans ready-cut tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound lean ground meat such as beef, venison or elk
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
10 fresh mushrooms, diced
Salt to taste
In a saucepan, heat oil and lightly brown onion, carrot and garlic.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and sugar. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, brown ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat, drain off fat.
Add meat and herbs to tomato mixture. Cover and simmer ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes.
Serve over pasta.
Yield: About 2 quarts.

Spaghetti Meat Sauce and Homemade Pasta

I’ve discovered that hunting and pasta go together. I’m sure the same could be true for any outdoor activity that makes a person work up an appetite that only pasta can come close to safisfying.

When we were out elk hunting in Colorado earlier this month, co-worker Mark Young brought a pheasant casserole with pasta for one of our meals up in the mountains. We gobbled that up quickly after a long day in the bush.

 And the past two weekends, when we were pheasant hunting in western North Dakota, his brother, Terry, was the author of a very tasty pheasant pasta soup that we had over the course of a couple of days. And I fixed a meat sauce with elk burger, tomatoes and onions from my garden, a little garlic and a few spices (oregano, basil and thyme) to top some spaghetti for another supper.

Those tasty pasta meals did wonders to restore some of the carbs we burned up while walking in search of game and enjoying the great outdoors.

While perusing my food sources this morning, I came across the following recipes for homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce. I might have to tuck them away for a future hunting trip. Or maybe have them tonight — just for the heck of it.

After all, it’s still National Pasta Month!  

Spaghetti Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground beef
½ pound hot or mild Italian sausage, uncooked
5 cloves garlic, pressed
4 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces red wine
3 16-ounce cans tomato sauce
6 ounces tomato paste
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Warm oil and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add onion and mushrooms, and saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
In another pan, brown ground beef and Italian sausage. Add garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add wine, and steam 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, carrots, celery, cooked onions and mushrooms to meat. Bring to boiling. Cover and cook over low heat 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Yield: Serves 12.

Homemade Egg Noodles
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
In the bowl of a food processor, using a metal blade, place flour, egg, egg white, oil and salt. Turn on food processor to mix ingredients. Slowly pour cold water into mix, while processor is running, until dough forms a ball. Let dough ball continue to process for one minute to knead. Place dough in a plastic bag to rest for 10 minutes before rolling it out.
When rolling it out, add lots of flour to keep it from sticking together. To cut pasta, follow manufacturer’s directions for pasta maker.
Yield: Serves 4.
To make by hand: Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in center and add egg, egg white, oil and salt. Mix together until dough can be gathered into rough ball. Add a little water if necessary. Knead dough on floured board 10 minutes. Dough should be smooth, shiny and elastic. Place dough ball in a plastic bag to rest for 10 minutes before rolling it out.

Cooking with Dom DeLuise

Anybody who loves food lost a friend earlier this week. Dom DeLuise, actor, comedian and chef, died Monday in Samta Monica, Calif.

Although best known for appearing in several Mel Brooks’ movies, opposite Burt Reynolds in films and on Carol Burnett’s variety show in the 1960, the portly comedian also was an accomplished chef and cookbook author.

I’ve felt a close affection for DeLuise ever since first picking up his "Eat This, It Will Make You Feel Better" cookbook, which came out in 1988. I also have his "Eat This Too! It’ll Also Make You Feel Better."

Several of Dom’s (and Dom’s Mom’s) recipes are family favorites. Just recently, I shared the ones for Broccoli with Rigatoni and Pasta Fagioli in this space.

Not only do the cookbooks have wonderful recipes, they share a slice of Dom’s life, which was enriched by wonderful family, friends and food.

I think what struck me the most was his relationship with his family. He had so many good things to say about them, especially his mother, Vincenza, a full-time homemaker whose culinary skills inspired several of his cookbooks. (His father, John, was a New York City garbage collector.)

In a way, it was Dom’s embracing of his family food traditions that made me aspire to make cooking a way of life rather than just a necessity and to cherish my own family’s food traditions.

In Dom’s memory, I’m going to share a couple of more of his and his momma’s recipes. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do. And along the way, maybe it will make you think about a man who put so much joy into other people’s lives through his love for family, friends and food. 

Mama’s and Michael’s Meat Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans ready-cut tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon thyme
10 fresh mushrooms, diced
In a saucepan, heat oil and lightly brown onion, carrot and garlic.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and sugar. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, brown ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat, drain off fat.
Add meat and thyme to tomato mixture. Cover and simmer ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes.
Yield: About 2 quarts.
 

Dom’s Mom’s Meatballs
2 pounds ground chuck
½ pound of ground pork
2 cups Italian-flavored bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped very fine
1 onion, minced
½ cup pignoli (pine nuts) (optional)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix throughly. Let stand ½ hour. Shape into medium-size meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned, or place on foil on a cookie sheet and bake for ½ hour at 350 degrees. Gently place in your own hot spagetti sauce and cook on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
(Dom’s note)
P.S. "What I like to do is quadruple the recipe (you’ll have about 100 meatballs) and then place the meatballs on large teflon baking pans. After they’re baked and cooled, I put 20 at a time in large Ziplock bags and pop them in the freezer. then they’re ready, willing and able anytime."
 

Momma’s Marinara Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans ready-cut peeled tomatoes or 5 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves
Pepper
Grated cheese
In a deep 10-inch frying pan, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the garlic. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and sun dried tomatoes.
Put on medium for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tear basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle on top after adding to pasta. Add pepper and grated cheese top taste.
Note: This sauce is fabulous with fish, scallops, shrimp, or boiled chicken, etc.
Alternative: Add 1 medium onion finely chopped, and sauté the onion with garlic until limp.
Note: If fresh tomatoes are used, put them in a pot of boiling water for about 10 seconds until the skin can be easily peeled off. Discard skin. Cut tomatoes into pieces and add to frying-pan mixture. Add tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes.
Yield: Makes about 2 quarts.