Monday, September 14, 2015

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This recipe might make me hand over my foodie card, because it uses jars of tomato sauce, but I don't mind. Making your own tomato sauce is time consuming and when I'm in the mood for comfort food I'm in the mood to set it and forget it. Spaghetti with meat sauce is one of the first things I used to make when I was a kid. When I turned 21, I usually cooked with a beer in my hand, and this recipe was spawned from that.


1 lb of ground beef
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 24 oz jars of your favorite pasta sauce
2 bottles of lager
½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese


Start off by opening one of the bottles of lager and drinking it while you cook.

Brown the ground beef in your cooking vessel of choice, I like my 10" cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat. When the meat is nearly done, add the garlic and sweat lightly. Once the meat is evenly browned, add it to a large pot with the sauce. Don't drain the meat, as you want all the flavor possible getting into your sauce. Pour in the lager and heat on medium-low until it simmers and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

Right now you would have a pretty good sauce, but the flavor really comes together if you let it simmer for awhile longer. You can even do this part in a crock-pot or slow-cooker if you would like. I usually let it simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring every few minutes, before I serve it.

Before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve over pasta with more Parmesan on top as desired. If you add the cheese too early and it gets too warm, it might curdle and get lumpy. The best way to prevent this is to mix it right before service and with the heat off. There will still be more than enough heat to melt the cheese.


My wife likes when I use 90/10 ground beef, but I prefer 80/20. 90/10 will make for grainier, slightly drier meat, but 80/20 will make a greasier sauce; it's up to you.

I cooked about a pound of spaghetti until a little before al dente, and then I added the under-cooked noodles to the sauce to allow them to finish cooking. This lets the noodles take on a bit more flavor, and any starch that is left on the noodles will get into the sauce, thicken it, and help it cling to the noodles better. Keep testing the noodles for doneness and serve as soon as they are cooked to your liking. The spaghetti should go in right before the Parmesan.

This would be a good recipe to use an actual block of Parmesan cheese, despite the cost. Pre-grated Parmesan cheese tends to include cellulose powder, or wood pulp, which keeps the product from caking or clumping. While that is a good thing, the added starch can make a sauce taste and feel grainy. Plus, you can't beat the flavor of the fresh stuff. Again, as with anytime I use a more "premium" ingredient, feel free to substitute.

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