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Feb 17, 2013 10:02 AM

Your best "meat sauce" recipe

I would call myself an intermediate home cook.

HOWEVER, I have yet to make my own spaghetti meat sauce!

What is your idea of the perfect meat sauce?

I've seen suggestions recommending to use crushed tomatoes, and some recommending whole tomatoes. This, I'm sure is a preferential thing.

I've seen suggestions that recommend using chunks of brisket or chuck meat instead of ground beef. I've seen suggestions saying that they like using a combination of pork, beef and veal.

Also, what herbs and seasonings do you like to put into your sauce?

Correct me if i'm wrong - I'm under the impression meat sauce is a tomato based sauce with meat. I'm looking for ideas tailored to eating this sauce with spaghetti pasta.

Thank you.

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    1. My best meatsauce depends on my mood depending on shredded or ground meats, which can be either veal, beef or pork. I do not particularly care for braised lamb.

      Yesterday, Veal Breast was on sale for 1.29/ was cheap, so I was in the mood.... Seasoned and dusted in flour, browned well, mirepoix and two cans of crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker.....7 hours later...a nice sauce and tender meat.

      i would make similar dishes for chuck roast, ox tails and short ribs....or pork shoulder with tomatoes or without.. Lydia Bastianich has a nice recipe with four pounds of slice onions that's very good.

      For Bolognese... I prefer a combination of ground meat with dairy and tomato paste.

      1. With regards to which type of tomatoes in a depends on the type of sauce you are seeking for texture....smooth and thin, or thick and chunky..

        Here's a tip I learned many years ago from a chef who I worked with in my past history....All tomato brands and their products have very particular characteristics which ultimately define their sauce in two distinct ways....color and consistency. When you purchase your future tomato brands and types, record what you see when you open the can. Note the color, the texture and the liquid ratio. When you are finished making your sauce, note the results as well as to whether you like the taste or result. Test other brands and do the same.

        Some brands have very light color tomatoes, while others are much deeper and darker red. Ultimately, it will affect the color of your opposed to orange.

        4 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          I've been using 6 in 1 by Escalon. Smooth and fairly thick. I started with them strictly for my pizza sauce and now for other recipes. Deep red and very tasty.

          1. re: grampart

            That's a very good brand and a restaurant industry staple. What's available to me locally in supermarkets (28oz), I prefer the ones in a yellow can....Pastene, Cento and Pope. I also like LaFede in the blue cans.

            At Costco, The Contadina Crushed # 10 can is a good value.

            1. re: fourunder

              I get the 6in1's shipped from Escalon. Six 28 oz. cans for $16.50 shipping included.

            2. re: grampart

              6 in 1 are fine tomatoes, but I prefer to use whole DOP (certified) San Marzano Tomatoes imported from Italy. Don't pay a premium for the California version, they're not worth the price. Market Basket carries Cento DOPs for $2.99 and another brand at only $1.99. Just crush them up whole with your hands as you add them to the pan. I like to make a large sauce using 3-4 cans of the whole tomatoes and a small can of paste. Plenty of leftovers for mid week meals and it freezes well. In addition to dried basil and oregano, use some red pepper flakes and dried thyme to taste. I also use a bayleaf or two. And LOTS of fresh chopped garlic sauteed up with a small diced onion and a carrot for a bit of sweetness. If you use fresh herbs. throw them in about a half an hour before you serve.

              I make the Sunday Meat Ragu that my Nonna used to make so it cooks for several hours on Friday and again for a couple of hours on Sunday. It's always better after a couple of days. As for the meat, it's always what ever is on hand in addition to ground beef,pork and maybe veal. A pork chop or two, or beef tips are terrific, but not necessary.

          2. I make this using ground beef or, if I have it, equal parts leftover eye of the round steak and pork loin, minced. I start with soffrito of onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil, add the meat and some white wine (there's often a partial bottle of pinot Gris around. Dry white vermouth works, too), add a can of tomato sauce (15 oz) and a can of tomato paste (6 oz), add toasted ground fennel and nutmeg, plenty of back pepper, and a pinch of salt. Stir in dairy of your choice, a tbsp. or two. Cream works. So does sour cream. Toss is a bowl with pasta and grated Romano. This whole thing takes about as long as bringing five quarts of water to a boil and cooking the pasta.

            1. Marcella Hazan's Bolognese. Get her "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." It belongs in every cookbook collection.


              2 Replies
              1. re: Jay F

                Amen! Everyone always refers to her Bolognese as the standard, but I have enjoyed or drawn upon many, many recipes from that book.

                1. re: tim irvine

                  Amen! Everyone always refers to her Bolognese as the standard....

                  Silly me, I always though it was family recipes.

                  : 0 )