TO TASTE: Spaghetti Sauce

By doing routine tastings as your sauce develops, you can make your adjustments “to taste.”

This recipe was inspired by a good friend of mine from Anchorage, Alaska, Jack Silvers. He loved spaghetti and he didn’t like mine. Over the years I modified the recipe in the event I could ever make it for him, again.

Doing the prep work also makes the sauce making fun and much faster.

Chop the following and place each into separate bowls:

• 2 medium or 1 large Yellow onion
• 2 green peppers
• ½ celery stock

Use a smaller bowl for garlic and add a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt:
• 1 garlic bulb
• smash each clove and remove the inside stem – that is where the bitterness comes from

Bring one pound of mild Italian sausage to room temperature, remove casings and add a sprinkle of fennel (to taste), and flatten meat out in a frying pan – set aside.

In a large pot at medium heat add extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of butter to begin sautéing the garlic. Stir in sea salt or Himalayan pink salt and coarsely ground black pepper (to taste). This is the only time to add salt and pepper (garlic salt can be used as well).

Open a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, pour a class for yourself and just as the garlic has lightly browned – splash in some cabernet sauvignon and take a sip for yourself. The wine ads body and character to the sauce and should be good enough quality that you’d serve it to your next door neighbors.

Add the roughly chopped onion over the garlic and stir until a bit translucent – and then splash more cabernet sauvignon and take another sip for yourself.

Then add the bowl of chopped celery and stir with the garlic and onion until soften and splash more cabernet sauvignon and, again, take a sip for yourself.

Now, please add the roughly chopped green peppers. Stir like crazy to incorporate the garlic, onions, celery, and green (or yellow or red) peppers together and then splash some more cabernet sauvignon and take a sip for yourself.

Once these ingredients are moderately cooked over medium heat it is time to begin sautéing the 1+ lb. of Italian Mild Sausage in a separate skillet. Use one of the four from the Costco’s package of six links or a one pound package from a grocery store.

Watch over the sausage while browning and just keep turning until sausage is cooked to a light medium brown, but, not fully cooked or over browned. To the sausage add a sprinkle of fennel seeds – not too heavy handed, and then splash some cabernet sauvignon and again, take a sip for yourself. Now, add a tablespoon to taste of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Before adding to the sauce, drain as much of the fat floating on top of the sauce “to taste” as possible.

While the sausage cooks, start incorporating the following spices and herbs to taste into the vegetables:
• Basil
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Thyme
• and finally lightly add about a tablespoon of Fennel seeds “to taste”

Sprinkle each (not the fennel) so that they individually lightly cover the top of the vegetables. Adjust to taste after adding the Italian Sausage to the vegetables and herbs. Mix well and add a splash of cabernet sauvignon and, again, take a sip for yourself.

Now, add the following:
• 2 12oz cans of drained organic stewed tomatoes
• 1 12oz can organic tomato sauce
• 2 small cans of organic tomato paste
• 2 drained small cans of organic mushroom stems and pieces

Stir like crazy and splash some more cabernet sauvignon and, again, take a sip for yourself.

Add one heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth). Just do it.
Add, two heavy tablespoons of honey – and then a light sprinkling of a teaspoon of brown or white sugar over the top of the ingredients. You aren’t making candy, but, it sure makes the sauce taste good and insures it isn’t bitter. Just be careful and frugal and “to taste”.

Simmer for at least twenty minutes. Occasional stirring insures it doesn’t burn. By now you should have ½ the bottle of cab in the spaghetti sauce and the other half should have been enjoyed by you while making this.

Using a blender or a blender stick – break down all the veggies and mix with the tomatoes. You will notice a change in color – stop at that point – you want the sauce to have texture and not like baby food, either.

When using a standard blender, fill ingredients to half full, blend quickly and pour into a separate container, repeat. Be careful, the sauce is hot and you don’t want to cap the blender too tightly or fill to full. Blend just enough to knock down the vegetable chunks.

Depending on the vegetables moisture content, you may use a large spoon to draw off extra liquid. This doesn’t affect flavor and keeps the sauce tight.

Depending on your audience, boil up one pound (4-6 servings) of spaghetti noodles in salted water adding olive oil to prevent sticking. Just before you drain the noodles and plate the sauce stir in some shredded parmesan or equal type spaghetti cheese directly into the sauce. This helps it thicken and adds a bit of a salty taste, if needed. And, as always, serve your guests and take another sip of wine for yourself.

A final note:  one pot of sauce will make three quart jars and some left over for eating immediately.  You can put the hot sauce directly into sterile canning jars and put the lid and ring on tight.  In a few minutes you’ll hear the “pop” sound letting you know the jar is sealed.  Once cooled, it can be frozen or left in the fridge for about a week.