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A lot of folks have their own good thoughts about lasagna ingredients, (Have you EVER had any BAD lasagna? I haven't!), but they don't always have a standard recipe for the sauce. Here, I've taken a canned spaghetti sauce, (I use Hunt's Garlic and Herb brand -- it tastes good and it's cheap!), and converted it to a nice mellow and hearty meat sauce for lasagna or for any other Italian dish requiring a tomato-based meat sauce. I have used this basic recipe for many years, making slight adjustments to the flavor as I made it each time. For about the past two years, I've decided that now, it's exactly the flavor I want for my large-pan lasagna. The end product does NOT have the tangy, tart flavor of basic spaghetti sauce, in fact, it's almost semi-sweet. I don't usually use the minced garlic in this one but if you like garlic, add all you want. I recommend adding any minced garlic AFTER the sauce has been blended -- sautéing the garlic along with the onions can make the sauce a little bitter. Many times I have used this sauce to make a huge pan of lasagna that I was taking to the homes of loved ones after a funeral. In every instance, it was always well-received by the families and the crowd went for the lasagna before anything else. I never see leftovers. This recipe makes a LOT of sauce but you'll be glad to have the extra in the freezer (I use sturdy, quart zip-lock bags) for spaghetti later at the end of a hectic day when you don't feel much like cooking -- it goes really well with store-bought meatballs too -- I get the Italian ones at Sam's Club. In any case, I hope you enjoy this Italian meat sauce as much as my own family does.
- 2 lbs ground chuck, slightly browned and drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large white onions, chopped
- 52 ounces spaghetti sauce, canned (no meat)
- 8 ounces chicken broth
- 1⁄2 cup dry red wine (e.g., merlot)
- 2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
- 1 tablespoon Italian spices (see directions)
- 8 fresh garlic cloves (optional)
- Don't "fry" the burger -- just brown it slightly and drain off any excess grease. I use a potato masher to eliminate any chunks of burger.
- In a large cooking pot over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil and sauté the onions until they begin to caramelize a bit. At this point, add all remaining ingredients, including any minced garlic if you choose to use it.
- Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so. Do not cook more than 30 minutes or the sauce will begin to "separate" from the meat.
- Use your sauce in your pasta dish after it cools a bit.
- For the ITALIAN SPICES, I always use Dee514's excellent blend. To make up a batch, (for all things Italian!), blend: 2 tablespoons basil; 2 tablespoons marjoram; 1 tablespoon garlic powder; 1 tablespoon oregano; 1 tablespoon thyme; 1 tablespoon crushed, dried rosemary; 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Recipe #38293.
- NOTE: Just in case you're wondering what I DO put in my lasagna, it's layered lasagna noodles (pre-cooked); ricotta cheese; cottage cheese; Sharp Cheddar Cheese; Parmesan or Manchego cheese (the latter is absolutely delicious and mild); Mozzarella cheese; and; frozen spinach (1/2 box). I top the dish by sprinkling on a little dried basil. It takes a deep casserole dish for all these layers -- the cheap throw-away aluminum turkey roasters, sprayed with PAM, are best but you have to double them. I cover it with aluminum foil, bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes, then take the cover off, and then bump the temperature up to 400°F for another 15 minutes until I get some browning on top.
Thank you, Bone Man! I was so happy to see this recipe and especially that the spice recipe was included, this was so helpful. We will use this recipe again, Kendra