Monday, February 25, 2013

Easy Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

I know some of you probably have a fancy 100% from scratch spaghetti meat sauce, but this next recipe is an old family favorite (from my mom Cathy) that absolutely everybody loves.  From little kids, aunts and uncles, neighbors wandering by... everyone.  Hearty and easy enough for a weeknight, and tasty enough for any important weekend company to boot.  It makes a ton and extras are great to freeze and use for other dishes (lasagna, chicken Parmesan, etc).  Technically speaking we are going to doctor up a store bought sauce (gasp, the scandal), but we are going to add some of our own ingredients too, and that will give it a much fuller flavor.

Our family's favorite spaghetti
It cooks low and slow in the crock pot all day and makes the house smell fabulous. Serve with homemade french bread and a green salad and you have one of the best dinners known to man. So here is what you will need: (Free printable recipe at the end of the post)

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 onion chopped (or 1/2 bag of frozen chopped onions)
1 large (4lb 3 oz) jar of Prego spaghetti sauce
1 regular sized (24oz) jar of Prego Sauce (they recently made jar sizes smaller)
2 cans of Italian stewed tomatoes 
1 small can of tomato paste
2-4 freshed chopped tomatoes (optional)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste

Cook up your 2 lbs of ground beef with 1 chopped onion (or 1/2 a bag of frozen chopped onions) and drain.

While the meat is cooking down, get out your canned stewed tomatoes and paste.  

Drain the cans then pour into the bottom of a 6 quart crock pot/roaster oven.  Add the tomato paste as well.

Italian stewed tomatoes are huge, so I tend to try and break them up into smaller bite-sized bits before I add anything else.  Once the meat and onions are cooked and drained pour them on top of the tomatoes.

makin' the sauce MEATY
If you have some fresh tomatoes feel free to chop a few up and throw them in there.  We loved using up tomatoes from our garden this summer for this very sauce.

After that dump in your one large plus one regular sized cans of Prego sauce.  Seriously, it can't be another sauce.  This one has the best flavor.  Also they recently reduced the size of the jars (but of course charged the same price), and you want to make as much sauce as possible if you are going to go to all the trouble, right?

Prego... it's in there...

Pour that in and stir around gently to mix everything together.  Add salt, pepper, any other spices you like, and here's a little secret my mom doesn't do, I add a few spoonfuls of white sugar to counteract all the acid in the tomatoes.  Its just mellows it out a tiny bit and doesn't sweeten it like you'd think.

Mmmmm Saucy....
Next it just needs to cook on low for at least 6 hours or so, longer is just fine too, up to 8 hours.  If you have one of those new "too hot crock pots" (see rant here) it might try to boil the snarf out of it.  That's why I love my new temperature controlled roasting oven so much.  Don't let the sauce boil up too much during the day, it will get a bit runny.  Low and slow is the key.  If you do come back and there is too much liquid on the surface I have been known to make a little slurry of cornstarch and warm water in a small bowl and pour it in there the last 30 minutes to tighten it up.  You also want to go ahead and taste it again and add any last minute seasonings before serving.  Speaking of serving, we are not ones to mix our noodles in with our sauce.  We are of the philosophy of putting noodles on the plate then scoop out a generous portion of sauce lovingly on the top and let it flow down over the sides like a hot lava meat mountain. MMmmmmm Yum!

The best spaghetti sauce!  We love it.

Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese over the top and you're good to go.  Serve with some veggies or a salad to round out the meal. Our personal favorite thing to do is make homemade french bread topped with creamy butter, to help sop up any wayward sauce lingering about (recipe coming next, stay tuned).  

So that's it.  Nothing earth shattering here.  Just a quick, easy, and very VERY tasty sauce the whole family loves.  Enjoy!  Printable recipe found here.


Faye said...

This spaghetti recipe looks wonderful.

Camille said...

That looks SO YUMMY!! I doctor up sauce with a little italian sausage, but I'm going to have to try the extra tomato stuff next time! One thing I just love in my sauce is a little blurp (yes...just as much as that word sounds) of white wine - whatever is CHEAP (I keep Trader Joe's 2 Buck Chuck in my fridge). Thanks for the recipe!

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