For some unknown reason, we’ve had a hankering for ‘winter type foods’ as of late. Maybe we are tired of eating warm weather foods like cool BLT’s, salads and cold wraps. With soaring temperatures and the heat index reaching to 110 degrees F. the last few weeks, maybe the heat has gotten our minds a little fuzzy. I dunno but I do know that at times, when it gets this hot, all I want is a hearty hot meal. Crazy!
I like to use Sweet Italian sausage in a pasta sauce from time to time, as I did when I posted Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta. A reader emailed a while back inquiring of its taste, that is, why I would add a sugary sweet sausage to a tomato sauce. She was thinking of something similar to brown sugar or maple breakfast links. I explained how ‘sweet’ when referring to this type of sausage takes on a completely different meaning other than sugary. In reality, the sweetness of fennel used in sweet Italian sausage rides nicely along with many ingredients found in regular Italian sausage like garlic, basil and oregano. Hot Italian sausage is good to use sometimes too as many varieties contain red pepper flakes.
Packed with savory flavors, this recipe relies on two types of Italian sausage and a little pepperoni along with overtones of garlic, onions and fresh herbs riding happily along in an almost fresh tomato tasting base. I guess you could call this a 4 meat sauce if you want. This recipe is based on one that I make in the dead of winter using canned tomatoes and dried herbs so I also give you the option of dried herbs as well. Enjoy!
Meaty Spaghetti Sauce with Beef, Italian Sausage and Pepperoni
fresh herbs adds a most refreshing taste
about 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground Italian mild sausage
- 1 pound lean (93%) ground beef
- 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
- 1 -19 to 20 oz package Italian Sweet sausage links, casings removed
- 5 garlic toes, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 8 oz cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 -28 oz Cento crushed tomatoes
- 1 -28 oz Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried crushed
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- dash or two of celery salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooked spaghetti
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add ground sausage, ground beef, pepperoni and cook stirring to break up the meats until brown and liquid is cooked out. Toss in the sweet sausage (cut into half-inch pieces) and cook covered about 10 minutes stirring occasionally allowing the moisture to steam the sweet sausage.Do not break up; leave them as ‘meatballs’.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant; stir in the onion, bell pepper and mushroom and turn the heat up slightly. Stir all while to prevent burning. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Reduce heat to medium high and add the crushed tomatoes. Add the juice from the peeled tomatoes and dice the San Marzano tomatoes. Add these along with the seasonings to the pot. Bring sauce to a low simmer reducing heat to low. Cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally.
Add a little sauce to the cooked spaghetti, toss before plating and top pasta with a good helping of sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan or your favorite Italian cheese on top.
Note: If not using the leanest beef or pepperoni, cook first and drain away grease before adding olive oil and ground sausage.