I hope one day to have a daughter who adores me as much as I adore my mom (update from 2020, I do!). I could go on and on about her, she is the sweetest person I know. Ever since I packed up my car and moved to Chicago to go to culinary school when I was 23, she has called me every single day. Even now that I don’t live in that scary big city anymore, I wouldn’t trade our daily chats for anything. But before this turns into a draft for next years Mother’s Day card, let me get to the spaghetti.
Starting way back when we were kids, Man!, my brothers and I didn’t know it but we ate good! My mom is truly famous in our family for three meals (all with “Mom” in the title and rightly so) – Mom’s Mac&Cheese, Mom’s Buttermilk Pancakes, and Mom’s Spaghetti. I promise I am not a food snob, but thanks to her, I will stick my nose up at bisquick, that little blue box of noodles and cheese powder, and a jar of prego. She is an excellent cook and can go far beyond these three, but always eating these classics from scratch pretty much sums up how wonderful my childhood was. I started a hand written recipe book a good 10 years ago when I first started working it restaurants and those are some of the first few entries. This is one of those recipes where “love” is an actual ingredient. Whenever mom would ask me “what should I make for dinner?” I’d say spaghetti, hands down, my absolute favorite.
I will admit there are some pretty good quality jarred spaghetti sauces these days, but a homemade pot of mom’s version is not much harder to put together. There are no secret ingredients here, no big mystery why mom’s is so amazing, just an honest, good ole fashion, straight forward pot of sauce…it’s cheaper, it makes a ton (you can freeze it), and it is just so so good.
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1-2 lbs ground beef (depending on how meaty you like it)
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1 t kosher salt
- 6 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1 T dried oregano
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 28oz cans tomato product (crushed, diced, or whole broken up, all are fine)
- 2 6oz cans tomato paste
- ½ c fresh parsley or basil chopped
- 1 lb spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion and saute until soft and starting to lightly brown
- Add beef and let brown, breaking it up and moving it with a wooden spoon
- When beef is cooked through, add sugar and dry spices (any Italian dried herbs are really fine to use--basil, oregano, thyme or the Italian mix), then add garlic and let cook for 1 minute
- Add cans of tomato, breaking them up with a potato masher works well for whole tomatoes or chop them with a knife or food processor
- Let sauce simmer on low for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add parsley or basil in the last half hour before serving
- When ready to serve, cook pasta following package instructions. Top with sauce and grated Parmesan cheese