Saturday, November 2, 2013

Great Spaghetti Sauce and Homemade Ricotta

(A recipe I found on the internet—that I improved the process/technique of for my tastes) 
By no means is this an authentic Italian style sauce. An suspect an Italian would be horrified. BUT-- I have not been to Italy, and it tastes great to me.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
½ cup celery, minced
¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs sausage (like a roll of Jimmy Dean) or ground beef (80/20 mix)
½ teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
6 oz mushrooms (fresh), chopped fine
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 (10.5 oz) cans of beef broth
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

In large skillet, brown the sausage or ground beef and break into small pieces as cooking. If needed (depending on fat released by meat), add olive oil, onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery until onion is transparent. Add bay leaves, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

Add tomato paste. Mix it into the ingredients and cook until it turns into a rust/deep brick color. Add mushrooms, mix in. Then add diced tomatoes, sugar (to neutralize acid in tomatoes), & beef broth.

Stir well. Simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. I leave the lid partially off so it stops a lot of splatter, but allows the evaporating water to escape—and therefore thickens the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, sometimes I add more spices.

When it tastes awesome, it’s done. It really does get better as it cooks longer. (Sausage makes this sauce AMAZING. It makes it “special”.)


****If you're not into making spaghetti sauce, I like using Barilla's Marinara. It has a clean pure flavor and it's not expensive...but not the cheapest on the shelf either.


I recently made my own Ricotta and it was soooo good. I love fancy/expensive store bought ricotta but can't pay the price....or find it in my little town anyway. So, if you're feeling like learning something easy that yeilds huge returns, make your own Ricotta...cheaper, easy, tasty... I use this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Just be careful of the amount of lemon you use to curd the milk. Mine was very lemony--which was fine for adding spices and stuffing shells, or a dessert, but it may be too much in a lasanga. Also, double the recipe if making lasanga. One batch doesn't make much. 

Hope this favorites are of helpful! I always love hearing about good recipes to try.

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