Prep 10 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
I love recipes with stories, and this one is a doozie. Once upon a time Proust ate a madeleine and recalled his past in ‘A la recherché du temp perdu’, a gigantic novel that many have started and few have finished. Kenneth Nesslange reversed the technique: he recalled his past, most notably a spaghetti sauce made by the mother of his childhood sweetheart, and then created the sauce. Because he did not marry the sweetheart, the recipe did not come to him by inheritance, and it took years for him to achieve the desired flavor. He was aided by one memory in particular: the mother had said that she used molasses because “I don’t have to slave over the stove all day, but it will taste like it.” While molasses can help achieve the brownish red look of a long-cooked sauce, and add a hint of caramel flavor, the rich mélange of meats and herbs deserves some of the credit for the opulent flavor of this sauce. Thanks to Mr. Nesslange of Santee, CA (in Sunset) for another Top Ten favorite of mine. (If you have an herb garden, feel free to substitute more fresh herbs rather than dried.) Mama Mia, this is good sauce!
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 1 (3 ounce) package pepperoni, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 small green pepper, stemmed, seeded & chopped (about 1/4 pound)
- 1⁄2 lb mushroom, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon dried basil (I add fresh at the end instead)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄4 cup molasses
- 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato puree
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (my addition)
- chiffonade fresh basil, to taste (my addition)
- In a 5-6 quart pan over medium heat, crumble beef with a spoon. Remove sausage casing and crumble sausage in pan. Stir often until meat is well browned, 12-15 minutes. Discard drippings.
- To pan, add pepperoni, onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Stir occasionally until onion is limp, 5-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a blender or processor, whirl garlic, all herbs (except the parsley & basil) molasses and about 1/2 cup of the tomato puree until garlic and herbs are finely chopped.
- Pour mixture into pan, rinse blender with beer and pour into pan along with the rest of the beer, remaining tomato puree and the wine. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then simmer until reduced to about 9 cups, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
- Add fresh chopped parsley and basil or any other fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time.
- If making ahead, let sauce cool, cover and chill up to three days. To store longer, freeze in easy to use portions.
This one gets a top rating from Dh, the resident red meat eater. He liked this BETTER than the Italian gravy I've been making at 1/4 the cost, 1/5 the saturated fat and 1/6 the time to make. That's a winner in my cookbook. Did I mention it makes 9 cups so you can have lots in the freezer for very little effort?