Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Posted by on April 7, 2010 in Beef, Blog, Family Favorites, Pasta & Noodles, Turkey | 11 comments

 

As a kid, my favorite dish was my mom’s spaghetti with meat sauce.  It was, as the kids say today, “the bomb!”

The funny thing was that, being Japanese, my mom would always ask us if we would like rice too.  My dad, brother and I would always say, “no”.  Yet, she always cooked a fresh batch of rice for dinner every time she made spaghetti, just in case one of us said, “yes.”

The spaghetti I make today doesn’t taste too different from the spaghetti my mom used to make for us.

As we got older, my mom switched from using ground beef to either ground turkey or ground chicken since it was healthier for us.  When Bebe Dada and I started dating, I too made ground turkey spaghetti but he didn’t really like it although he didn’t come out and just say it.  Ground turkey apparently upset his stomach.  Hmmm, sometimes I tell people that a specific food upsets my stomach – – – just because I don’t like to eat it.

Anyway, over the last year few years I’ve been slowly making secretive changes to my family’s regular dishes and so far, they’ve been well-received without any complaints.  For example, I slowly integrated brown rice into our white rice by mixing it at first, and then slowly decreasing the amount of white rice I mixed in.  Today, we only eat brown rice.

Another secret of mine is to hide finely chopped vegetables in different types of dishes that I make.  For example, I steam and finely chop cauliflower and add it to dishes such as spaghetti sauce, curry, or even enchilada sauce.  I’m pretty sure neither bebe dada or big onechan read my food blog so this secret is safe with you.

So for dinner last night I made spaghetti with meat sauce using half ground turkey and half ground beef.  I thought the “goble-goble” meat would receive serious protests but it didn’t!  Hmmm, interesting.  I think it’s because it was still flavored by the ground beef they’re used to tasting.  My plan is to slowly increase the turkey proportion over the next few months…

I bought organic whole wheat pasta at Trader Joe’s.  If I had announced that I was going to make this and that we were switching to whole wheat pasta because fiber is good for us, I’m sure I would have heard complaints and maybe even seen a wrinkled yuck face or two.

That’s why last night I used 2/3 enriched wheat pasta and only 1/3 organic whole wheat pasta.  My plan is to slowly start changing these proportions and maybe switch completely to whole wheat pasta.  Again, this secret is safe with you.

Now getting back to the spaghetti with meat sauce that I grew up with…  My mom’s secret to a quick, good family spaghetti sauce is, you guessed it, RAGU.  Well, sometimes she would buy Trader Joe’s brand pasta sauce or Paul Newman’s but you get my point.  A good jar of sauce is a good starting point to making a great meal.

My apologies to you food bloggers out there making sauce from scratch, but sometimes, when you’ve got kids and a busy day, spaghetti out of the jar is a quick and easy dinner and kids love it.  :)

I do have one great homemade tomato sauce recipe that I snagged from a magazine or somewhere from Mark Strausman of Campagna from New York, and one of these day I promise to post this recipe.  It’s delish.

Getting back to my good friend Ragu… I don’t just use any Ragu sauce.  I learned from my good friend Pepe that CHUNKY Ragu’s Mama’s Special Garden Sauce is the best.  It’s the one with the green label.  In case any of you are interested in trying out my secret ingredient here’s a picture of it.

When we have spaghetti night at our house I make a double batch and freeze enough for another spaghetti night in two weeks or so, or enough for lasagna (recipe forthcoming in a future post), another family fave.

My Family’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef (or use all ground turkey)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 jars Chunky Ragu Mama’s Special Garden Sauce
  • 2  14.5 ounce cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large stalk of celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/3 bunch of spinach
  • 1 small package button mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 pinches of pre-minced garlic from the jar
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 package of whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2/3 package of enriched wheat spaghetti
  • Pam cooking spray
  • Water

1) I use my mini food processor to chop the onions, celery, carrots, and spinach into tiny little pieces.  I started to do this because certain members of the family don’t like onions or celery.  I like to finely chop the carrots because it really sweetens and enhances the flavor of the sauce.  Usually I don’t add spinach, but because I had some in my fridge today I went ahead and chopped that up too.  This is where I would also throw in my steam and chopped cauliflower if I had any on hand.

2) Chop the garlic into large pieces.  I do this because the larger the garlic, the less potent it is. Sometimes I’ll just quarter the garlic.  If you like strong garlic flavor, mince the garlic or consider using a garlic press or pre-minced garlic out of the jar.

3) In a large stock pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat.  Add fresh garlic then all of the chopped veggies.  Sautee for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Remove veggies from pot and set aside.

4) Before I brown the ground meats, I use a knife to chop and tenderize the meat.

Have you ever thrown a pack of ground beef into the pan and then as it cooks you find that there are long hamburger strings of meat or large chunks of meat?  Ok, maybe this is my type-A, anal-retentive gene kicking in, but I really don’t like it when I find a long string of cooked hamburger meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I like it when my ground meat is really minced .  I also believe that when the meat is minced it absorbs the seasoning much better.

5) Brown the ground beef.  Add salt and pepper and a pinch of minced garlic to start building layers of flavor. Drain the excess fat.  I use a colander to do this because I like to get rid of as much of the excess fat as possible.  Leave the beef in the colander.

6) Next, brown the ground turkey, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of minced garlic. Then add the ground beef back to the pot.  Add the cooked veggies.

7) Drain the canned stewed tomatoes.  The reason I don’t add the liquid from the canned tomatoes is because it makes the sauce too watery.  I chop the bigger chunks of tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, then add these to the pot.

SHOPPING TIP: I buy my canned Italian stewed tomatoes at Costco.  S&W brand.  It’s cheaper than buying them at the supermarket individually and I use these for soup, sauce, and chili so its convenient to have on hand.

8) Next, add 2 jars of Chunky Ragu Mama’s Special Garden Sauce.  Add brown sugar, bay leaves and milk.

COOKING TIP:  I never used to add milk to my tomato sauces until I watched an episode of Emeril Lagasse on Food TV (my fave channel I can’t live without).  Apparently it mellows the acidity of the sauce and adds a bit of richness to it.  I use low-fat skim milk which is what I keep in our fridge but use heavy cream or whole milk if you want your sauce more rich.

9) Bring the pot of sauce to a boil, them reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  When I make this sauce earlier in the day, I’ll simmer it for up to 2 1/2 hours.  This reduces the sauce and really deepens the flavor of the sauce.  Stir occasionally.

10) As the sauce simmers, I skim off the excess oil that floats to the top of the sauce.

11) Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

12) In a second large pot, bring water to boil.  Salt the water.  Then I spray the water with some Pam cooking spray.  I don’t use olive oil in the water because I found that Pam helps to keep the spaghetti noodles from sticking better than olive oil.

13) Boil pasta for 8 to 10 minutes.  We like our pasta al dente.  Drain.

You’re done!  Just plate the pasta and spaghetti for a delicious dinner.

Happy eating!

Judy

 

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef (or use all ground turkey)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 jars Chunky Ragu Mama's Special Garden Sauce
  • 2  14.5 ounce cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large stalk of celery
  • ½ onion
  • ⅓ bunch of spinach
  • 1 small package button mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 pinches of pre-minced garlic from the jar
  • ½ tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ package of whole wheat spaghetti
  • ⅔ package of enriched wheat spaghetti
  • Pam cooking spray
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Use mini food processor to chop the onions, celery, carrots, and spinach into tiny little pieces.
  2. Chop the garlic into large pieces.
  3. In a large stock pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Add fresh garlic then all of the chopped veggies.  Sautee for about 5 - 7 minutes.  Remove veggies from pot and set aside.
  4. Before I brown the ground meats, I use a knife to chop and tenderize the meat. Brown the ground turkey (or beef) in the pot with some olive oil. Add salt and pepper and a pinch of minced garlic to start building layers of flavor. Drain the excess fat.  I use a colander to do this because I like to get rid of as much of the excess fat as possible.  Leave the turkey in the colander.
  5. Sautee the chopped onions, carrots, spinach, celery and garlic.
  6. Drain the canned stewed tomatoes.  Chop the bigger chunks of tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, then add these to the pot.
  7. Next, add 2 jars of Chunky Ragu Mama's Special Garden Sauce.  Add brown sugar (optional), bay leaves and milk.
  8. Bring the pot of sauce to a boil, them reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  When I make this sauce earlier in the day, I'll simmer it for up to 2½ hours.  This reduces the sauce and really deepens the flavor of the sauce.  Stir occasionally.
  9. As the sauce simmers, I skim off the excess oil that floats to the top of the sauce. This is necessary is using ground beef instead of ground turkey.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
  11. In a second large pot, bring water to boil.  Salt the water.  Then I spray the water with some Pam cooking spray.  I don't use olive oil in the water because I found that Pam helps to keep the spaghetti noodles from sticking better than olive oil.
  12. Boil pasta for 8 to 10 minutes.  We like our pasta al dente.  Drain.
  13. Serve large bowls of spaghetti topped with meat sauce. Enjoy!

11 Comments

  1. avatar

    I’m jealous you have all these fancy kitchen gadgets. I guess I should invest in some, so that I can finely chop vegetables. LOL

    • avatar

      I’m jealous you haven’t had to cook the past few years!!! :). LOL. Mini food processor is definitely a good $30 investment my newbie chef. :)

  2. avatar

    Wow Judy, your blog is awesome, what a chef/foodie you are! I’m impressed. This spaghetti recipe looks great.

    • avatar

      Hi Mina, thank you so much! If you have any recipe suggestions for me to try please let me know! :)

  3. avatar

    thanks for the info if u tweet add me @favoriterecipe and i will follow you back

  4. avatar

    WOW! Life saver! I just typed in Ground turkey and ground hamburger and spaghetti sauce, and here you are! I had ground turkey in the frige and had already started spaghetti with meat sauce! Oddly enough RAGU! I wanted more meat in it, but ran out of burger, so I checked on line to see if I could add the ground turkey! I added a few of the ingredients from your recipe as well! You are a life saver! Daughter is bringing over several girl friends and now I can feed them all and NOT run to the store!!!
    Thanks!!

    • avatar

      Wow, glad I could be of help! :) Thanks for leaving a comment for me. It’s always nice to know that I was able to help someone in need. I hope the pasta turned out to your liking, as well as those of your friends. Cheers!

  5. avatar

    Aloha!…this is my go to spaghetti recipe!

    • avatar

      Aloha to you as well! Thank you! I’m glad you are enjoying the easy spaghetti recipe. :)

  6. avatar

    Omg Judy, I love, love your website! Every day I’m enjoying reading new recipes and am vowing to become the Julie in Julie and Julia and make every one of your recipes! :) I am such a cooking novice that I’m starting with the easiest ones first. I do plan on making this in the next couple of days since I’m not teaching. I’m glad I found the cheesy garlic bread to go with. Talk soon and a hug for bebe from me…so love seeing her young pics :)

    • avatar

      Hi Mrs. Lew! Thanks so much for leaving a comment for me. I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying my blog! I hope the recipes work out for you. Many of the dishes are tailored to suit mine and my family’s taste but hopefully there will be many more recipes that you can enjoy and add to your repertoire! I look back at Bebe’s pictures from long a few years back and can’t believe how much she’s grown. They grow too fast, don’t they?!? See you soon!

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