All Purpose Meat Sauce

Some things just can’t be done in 20 minutes or in small quantities. This sauce does freeze very well and can be packaged in single portions.

My first introduction to true Italian cooking was as a teenager. My friend’s father fixed a sauce for Sunday dinner each week. He started on Wednesday. He always started with fresh tomatoes, seeded and skinned, which he reduced into a tomato sauce base. To this he added Italian sausages, both sweet and hot, pepperoni, a whole cut up chicken with the skin, and meatballs. Vegetables included in the sauce were onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic. He served the sauce over pasta and let each person choose the meats they most liked. Needless to say this was a hearty dish.

By today’s standards there is way too much fat in this dish, the sausages and chicken contributing most of it.

Over the years, I have developed a quicker version of his sauce. This is not a 20-minute quickie but the sauce does freeze well and can be used not only as a pasta sauce but whenever a tomato meat sauce is called for, such as french bread pizzas or lasagna. The commercial manufacturer’s of pasta sauces websites have recipes available.

Like all home cooks, my recipes are done to my taste. I prefer that salt be added at the table. If you prefer that your dishes be salted in the pot, then add ½ tablespoon of salt to the sauce or alternatively 4 stalks of finely chopped celery (sauté them with the rest of the veggies). Celery has a high sodium content.

I’m not fond of sweet entrees so there is no sugar in my recipe. Also, I like to see what I’m eating so the vegetables are rough chopped, by that I mean slices about ¼-inch wide. No harm will be done if you prefer diced veggies or a bit of sugar in your sauce.1 soup ladle make one serving of sauce—that is about 1/2 of a cup. The sauce can be frozen by itself in plastic containers or in zippered freezer bags (cool the sauce before packaging in freezer bags).

For individual frozen dinners, prepare the pasta of your choice according to package directions to the al dente stage, drain and rinse. (It will cook more during the reheating process.) My daughter reminds me that if you use a long pasta like spaghetti or vermicelli to break the pasta in half before cooking. Toss the pasta with a bit of oil, olive oil preferably, to keep it from clumping.

Gladware makes a small snack size container (9 oz). It is the perfect single portion. Don’t be fooled, it may look too small but it is just right—if you’re still hungry you can always fix a second helping.

Check the pasta package and divide the pasta into the right number of containers, ladle sauce on top (approximately 1 soup ladle— 1/2 cup), cover and freeze. Reheat in microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir and return for 2 minutes on high. Enjoy.

Kalei’s All Purpose Meat Sauce

1 lb hot pork sausage roll
1 lb ground beef
1 large white onion
1 large bell pepper
1 package of mushrooms
2 tablespoon butter
2 12-oz cans tomato paste
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
4 12-oz cans red wine or water
1 tablespoon dry basil
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon dry diced garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
6 teaspoons or cubes chicken bullion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon powdered curry
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 bay leaves

Mix sausage and ground beef together and brown, breaking up any clumps. While the meat mixture is cooking, rough chop onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. When the meat mixture is cooked through, drain the off the excess fat with a colander. Be careful not to put this grease down your drain as it could clog your pipes. I catch mine in a bowl and transfer it to a zippered bag to go out with the trash.

Melt butter in the pan and sauté the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, wine or water, spices, and meat mixture back to the pan.

Turn down the heat and simmer 2 hours. Makes 19 servings. Approximately 200 calories when using water water.