What’s more classic than a good spaghetti recipe? I mean, few people DON’T like spaghetti, and in our house, we eat it about every other week. My hubby LOVES him some spaghetti!
Within the last couple of years, because of my quest for healthier, less processed foods for my family, we made the switch from Prego to “homemade” spaghetti sauce. I tried I don’t know how many sauce recipes before I found something we both really loved. I found THIS recipe from “A Turtle’s Life for Me,” and tweaked it just a little bit to fit our family’s preferences.
Please keep in mind that this recipe makes 7-8 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and it also takes half the day to make. Just so you’re prepared ,Here is my Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Meat Recipe:
3 onions, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 Tbsp olive oil
16 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes with cores removed. (Save as much of the juice as possible!)
2 Tbsp dried Oregano
2 Tbsp dried Parsley
Handfull fresh Basil (or 2 Tbsp dried)
1/4 C white sugar2 Tbsp 2 tsp Salt (Be sure to use canning salt if you’ll be canning your sauce) (After tasting a batch of our canned sauce, I decided to reduce the amount of salt. Pressure canning strengthens the flavors of spices, and in this case made the sauce WAY too salty. The 2 Tbsp will be fine if you’re freezing it, but should be reduced by over half if you’re canning. You can always add extra salt later if you’re a salt-a-holic)
1 Tbsp TexJoy (My family’s “secret” ingredient that we use in EVERYTHING)
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
24 oz Tomato Paste
5 lbs meat (I use a mixture of 3 lbs lean ground beef plus 2 lbs breakfast sausage)
Start with getting your tomatoes ready. I didn’t include pictures of this step because it was my first time to peel fresh tomatoes, and I was so absorbed in getting it right that I completely forgot to get the camera out haha. Sorry , But you’ll want to peel and chop them, making sure to remove the cores. If you are feeling a little bit lazy and don’t want to peel your own tomatoes, you can also use 5 large cans (28oz) of whole, peeled tomatoes. Just be sure to keep all of the juice, and to remove the cores. Then dice your peppers, onions, and garlic as well. I’m a big fan of chunky spaghetti sauce, so I don’t dice them very small. They will cook down quite a bit, too. I also like to measure out my spices just to have them ready.
Throw your onions, peppers, and garlic into a large stock pot. (And by large, I mean HUGE. I use an 8 quart pot, and it’s almost too small.) You can also use a crock pot, as mentioned in the original post, just make sure its big enough to hold everything. My little crock pot was too small. Sauté in olive oil until onions are transparent. (Yes, I forgot to add my peppers until the last minute…fail.)
Add the rest of your ingredients except the meat: Tomatoes (with as much juice as you can possibly save), spices, and tomato paste. Just look at all of that chunky goodness!
Now comes the waiting game. Bring to a slow simmer, and let it sit for 4-5 hours, stirring every hour or so.
About an hour before it’s ready, brown your hamburger meat and sausage. You’ll want it to be completely brown (no pink,) but make sure not to over-cook your meat because it will continue to cook when you add it to the sauce, and it will cook even further if you pressure can your sauce, like I do. Drain at least half the fat. The more fat you drain, the healthier your sauce will be, but the more fat you leave, the more flavorful it will be. Pick your poison.
An hour or so later and your sauce is finished! Now you get to decide how you want to store it! I doubt you’ll use all of it right this minute, so you have the option of freezing the sauce in quart-size ziplock bags, which will save for about 3-4 months, or you can pressure can your sauce, which can last for over a year. Just a note: you can NOT preserve this sauce with a water bath canner. It must be pressure canned. So, if you don’t have a pressure canner, please freeze your sauce in lieu of poisoning your family ,Pressure Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat
If you’ll be canning your sauce, please read on! And if you’re new to pressure canning, I HIGHLY recommend watching At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond with Kendra Lynne. She is AWESOME!
When your meat sauce is ready, ladle the still simmering, hot sauce into clean, hot jars, leaving about 1 inch headspace. I use quart-sized mason jars, and I generally have about 7 full jars with a little bit left over.
Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more sauce. Wipe rim to clear any leftover food particles, then place the lid on the jar and screw band on until fingertip-tight.
Ready your pressure canner by oiling the rim with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (if you have a metal to metal seal), filling your canner with 2 inches of warm water, and placing the rack in the bottom. Place jars in canner. I use an All-American 21 1/2 Quart pressure canner, so I am able to fit all 7 quart size jars in it.
Adjust water level, if needed, place the lid on the canner, and bring to a boil. Vent the steam for about 10 minutes, then place weight on vent, and continue to heat until canner reaches 10lbs pressure. Process for 70 minutes, then turn off heat and allow pressure to drop to zero.
When pressure is at zero, remove weight and allow the extra steam to release before removing the lid. Always make sure to let steam escape away from your face! Carefully remove jars from canner and place on drying rack. I use an old cookie rack placed on a towel.
Allow jars to cool for 24 hours. Then test the seals. If the seals are good, label your jars and place them on a shelf in your pantry for an easy, scrumptious meal down the road!
If any of your jars did not seal, you can either re-process the contents in a new, clean jar, or you can place the jar in the fridge and use within 3-4 days.So, try it and let me know what you think! I hope you love it!
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