Friday, March 14, 2014

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

My dad tries to avoid tomatoes because they give him headaches. When I was a kid, if my dad was away for dinner, we would have spaghetti smothered with sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese that my mom would melt in the oven. It was special occasion food, and it was so, so good.

Since I grew up and married a wonderful man who also gets headaches from tomatoes, spaghetti continues to be a special occasion meal. Recently my mom came to visit without my dad. And the husband was out of town, too. So us girls got crazy...and we made spaghetti with homemade meat sauce.

It was indeed a special occasion.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman and

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground beef
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes*
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
Cooked spaghetti, for serving
Shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high. Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until browned, about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove ground beef and set aside. Drain grease from the pot and return to medium-high.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot. Add onion and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes.

Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, Parmesan cheese rind, and reserved cooked ground beef. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer about 2 hours. Remove Parmesan cheese rind and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over spaghetti and top with plenty of Parmesan cheese.

*I bet you could use tomato sauce if you wanted to avoid any chunks of tomatoes.