Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Okay I'll admit it. For awhile now I've been using store bought pasta sauce. Between our families, my husband and I grew up eating homemade sauce but somewhere along the way I found out Ragu was actually pretty good and it became a pantry staple. Anyway, in my quest to reduce as many processed foods as possible I decided to make a large batch the other day. With foods like this, I always make a ton extra and freeze the rest in small containers to be pulled out as needed. It doesn't take extra work to double, triple or quadruple a recipe and saves so much time later on. This recipe turned out pretty much perfect! This makes over 6 quarts of sauce. Just don't do what I did. I left mine out to cool before freezing and forgot about it overnight! I was extremely sad about that but will definitely make this again! Oh, and I made the pasta and sauce with  this Three Cheese Italian Bread, which is also awesome, by the way!

What You Need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped and divided
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
2 pounds hamburger (at least 90% lean)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 14-oz. can Italian-style diced tomatoes
2 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 carton fresh mushrooms (optional)
1 1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/2 of the onions and saute until translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add beef and cook until no red is showing. Drain beef slightly. Blend up the remaining onions and red pepper in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth. Add mixture to the garlic, onions and beef and stir to combine, cooking for another minute. Add tomato paste and spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring until combined. Add tomatoes, beef broth and sugar (and mushrooms, if using). Stir until combined and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Fifteen minutes before serving, stir in the balsamic vinegar.

 The sauce will seem watery at first but will reduce to perfection after simmering for an hour {or more}.

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