Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta

A pasta sauce not just for Sundays

Folks talk about Sunday Sauce and all types of pasta sauce as if everybody’s born to be Italian and some go as far in thinking there’s only one right one, being the original, the one passed along in their family from Mother-who-in-heavens-knows-anymore. I doubt they do either. Well, when it comes to eating spaghetti and making a meat sauce, I reckon it don’t matter what part of the country you live in or where you got your recipe, it’s all good, right? And before ya’ll get all riled up, let me say I know yours is the best.

The sauce we make down here is a bit different I suppose than some from the ‘real country’ as one put it, yet the more I got to looking at others, the more resemblance I saw and I guess that’s because Mobile and the south was the entry for so many folks from so many countries. Long before anyone thought about setting sights on the Upper New England territories, settlers were already mingling with the natives down here, probably making some kind of good sauce, melding different flavors into a new one. It’s no wonder so many of our good food sounds somewhat familiar to many from overseas, our roots stretch around the globe.

This is the way I grew up making tomato sauce with meat. Grandmother used just ground beef, Momma used beef and pork and well, I kind of use whatever I fancy at the time as long as it fits within the budget.


Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta

1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound bulk country sausage (I also like Italian sweet links)
oil if needed
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced celery
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup red wine (whatever you drink)
7 cups tomato meat (like Creole or Roma types) or two 28.5 oz cans San Marzanos tomatoes (sieved if desired)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 -6 oz. can tomato paste if using fresh tomatoes
Meatballs, optional

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, add the ground beef and Italian sausage, cook over medium high heat to brown stirring occasionally to form sucs on the bottom of the pot. Remove meats to a plate and if needed, add olive oil making about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, bell pepper and let the onion soften but not caramelize and then toss in the celery, mushrooms and garlic to sweat a minute or two. Add the wine and let this cook out. Stir in the meat, the tomatoes and season with the salt, pepper, bay leaf and oregano. Bring to a low simmer and cook covered for about 2 hours. Remove bay leaf.

Stir in the tomato paste and meatballs if using and simmer for 1 hour or until thickened. Toss a little of the sauce with pasta prior to serving.

19 thoughts on “Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta

  1. Pegasuslegend

    Theres nothing better for dinner, potluck, or a huge family gathering than making a meat sauce for pasta to satisfy a hungry bunch… you really nailed this one always a best bet

  2. Pierce

    This one I'll save for cooler weather. I have been trying to keep the cooking times down in the kitchen … it's been getting hot in there!

  3. Trix

    My dear Drick, there is nothing "not real" about cooking from your neck of the woods! As I see it, it is a true melting pot cuisine and about as real as it gets. Yum.

  4. sweetlife

    yummy meat sauce, I hate the pressure to have a perfect meat sauce that is there anything really really traditional..I'll stick to what I enjoy!! I would decour any of your recipes any day, HUGS!sweetlife

  5. The Mom Chef

    Wow, that looks fantastic. It's not at all the way our family made it, but I can see where I'd want to incorporate some of your ingredients into my recipe. Mind if I snitch a few things? 🙂

  6. Drick

    @Trix … I wasn't fishing for a compliment by any means, I think ya'll know by now I can stand on a soapbox like the rest of them, might not can hang as long, but I'm still up there….and you also probably can guess how I feel about our way of cooking too…. but hey, to everyone else, thanks to all for your compliments and heck yeah, throw in something different in the pot every now and then…

  7. redkathy

    Sounds like killer sauce Drick! Only thing that qualifies the 'Southern' is the country sausage and your using the word ya'll. LOL That's just humble opinion though, and btw what time is dinner?

  8. Ilke

    This sounds like my type of sauce. I like adding wine to the things I cook as well… It is just easy when you are already holding a glass continuously 🙂

  9. JodieMo

    I love this sauce! It sounds an awful lot like what I use for my meat sauce. It's a guaranteed dinner-time winner at my house, and Lord-knows, I can use that as often as I can get it!

  10. Pacheco Patty

    Great looking tomato meat sauce Drick, this looks just like the kind of sauce we made at home to put on our sphagetti back in the day. I would call this real comfort food, the kind that makes the house smell good all afternoon 😉

  11. Kristen

    I am not sure it's possible to have a bad spaghetti sauce, no matter how it's put together. Yours sounds great with those peppers and onions that little bit of heat that sneaks into most of your dishes.

  12. Nanette

    Love this recipe- so hearty! But, this NY Italian gal has to tease you…to my Italian family this is Chili- minus the beans. 😉

  13. Drick

    @Redkathy, so glad you're in the the south, I can tell, but this family recipe is not what I suspect a real Italian would make at all…@Nanette, Gotta laugh… you made my nite… don't try the beans though

  14. Nanette

    So nice to hear from you on Cucina Nanette. An honor to have you visit my blog and wanted to respond to your comments. I've made and raved about your chicken/kielbasa chili. Have never had a better chili in my life! I know that a "true" beef chili has no beans, but I love red kidney beans in mine…added protein and more filling. You gotta try my stuffed artichoke recipe…it's a keeper and perfect for a manly-man dinner. Thanks for the well wishes..may the Moms in your family have a blessed Mother's Day, too. N

  15. Mother Rimmy

    It's true, we all have our favorite pasta sauces. I think the most fun comes from constantly tweaking your own sauce to see if you can make it even better!Kristi


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