Cold winter days at my house growing up often meant that my dad was at the stove, cooking a giant pot of spaghetti sauce.
He still makes great vats of it from time to time. When each of my kids were born, he came down from New York and stocked our freezer with it for future meals. It was probably one of the greatest and most useful gifts I received in those early days. Just the smell of the sauce as the herbs and garlic mixed with the sausage and tomatoes brought back happy childhood memories as I cradled my own newborns.
My mom included my dad's recipe in a cookbook she wrote for my sister and I. It features all of the recipes she made regularly during our childhood. I turn to it often. And I've made my dad's spaghetti sauce from time to time. The family always gobbles it up. But I haven't made it as often as I'd like. It's best if left on the stove for a while and I just never seem to have enough time to devote to it.
Then, I wondered if I couldn't just use the same recipe and put it in a slower cooker. I searched online for other slow cooker spaghetti sauce recipes and realized that really, my dad's recipe, wasn't much different from the others found online.
I tried it this week and it was delicious. My eight-year-old actually ate more than I did.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground sausage (hot or mild)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic or the equivalent of garlic powder
28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped with juice (I just open the can and stick the knife through the tomatoes inside the can to chop them up a bit)
1 small can tomato paste
1 to 2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the meats in a skillet and add the onions and garlic. When the vegetables are cooked through and transparent, you have two options. My mom always drained an excess fat; my father kept it. I usually drain about half.
Add the meat, onions and garlic to your slower cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for nine hours on low. Serve on cooked pasta. Any leftover sauce can be frozen for future meals.
Optional additions: Chopped green bell pepper or quartered mushrooms.
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