September 23, 2004


Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 11:04 pm

Everyone who cooks has got some trick for making spaghetti sauce. Some of those I have tried recently and enjoyed are as follows:

  • Cook a big pot of it ahead of time; simmer and stir for two or three hours after it’s all together, and then turn off the element, put the lid on and let it sit on the stove overnight. The next day, turn it back on and let it simmer again for a few hours. When you’re done, the taste will jump out at you.
  • Soy sauce instead of salt. Darkens the sauce very nicely, and adds a nice richness to it. This can very easily be overdone, so be gentle.
  • Big chunks. I used to mince everything up, but big hunks of stuff is a lot more satisfying. Mushrooms cut in four, sausages cut in four or five, and so forth.

My own trick, such as it is, is this: sautee the mushrooms in garlic separately before adding them into the sauce. To cook a large pot, and use an entire bulb of garlic; peel it, mince it all up. Fry some sausages up, if you like that kind of thing, and when they’re done enough to cut up pull them out of the fry pan and lightly sautee the mushrooms in that same pan with two thirds of the garlic and a generous hunk of butter. Throw the cut-up sausages into the big pot (where, presumably, your ground beef has been browning) along with your onions and green peppers and crushed tomatos and so on. Put the rest of the garlic into the pot when you mix all of that together, and simmer. Put the mushrooms in when they’re lightly browned and proceed as usual.

Season to taste, of course, remembering that too much oregano is the signature finishing move of the rank amateur and tasteless philistines the world over.


  1. add a little splash of a beaujolais or a bordeaux… be selective and choose a wine that is compatible with the sauce. For example certain Shiraz wines with their spices, liquorice flavors and overly strong oakyness i think tend to ruin a good sauce more then help it.

    that is my 2 cents mike.

    by the way..i’m going climbing again tonight give me a shout if you want to come.

    Comment by sean — September 24, 2004 @ 4:22 pm

  2. I like you garlic idea, but then Karen wouldn’t kiss me for a week. :)

    Good spaghetti sauce or kissing my wife… why must I choose!?!

    Comment by Jamie — September 24, 2004 @ 5:45 pm

  3. If you’re adding wine, go for a port, particularly if the tomatoes aren’t super-sweet-ripe.

    Also, ground beef?!? That seems very bland midwestern, the sort of thing you’d put in if you thought sausage might be too spicy.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — September 24, 2004 @ 6:26 pm

  4. Something I do with ground beef is mix in curry paste. This might overpower some other flavours, but it’s the main seasoning when I make a sauce. An alternative that I haven’t been able to experiment with lately is jerk chicken and curried vegetables. My flatmate has been adding parmesan recently (he found a good supplier), and I’ll often throw in some red cheddar (the best kind I’ve found here is from New Zealand). Thanks for the tip about wine and port, I’ll be giving that a shot.

    Comment by Nick Hamilton — September 25, 2004 @ 9:59 pm

  5. Good parmesan is mandatory, of course – I thought that went without saying, like a bay leaves. I’m not sure I understand the ground beef problem, Koz, since sausages are made up of, well, ground beef with spices. Putting them in separately is no big deal. I like the port idea, though.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — September 27, 2004 @ 4:55 pm

  6. Well, a) I think most sausage is pork, though I could be wrong on that, but mostly b) the point is that the sausage spices are not the same as the sauce spices, so there are little nuggets of differently-spiced goodness for tasty variety.

    And you’re weird about the bay leaves. Bay leaves go in chili, not spaghetti sauce.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — September 28, 2004 @ 1:40 pm

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