Betty’s Spaghetti Sauce

  • Prep Time
    Half an hour
  • Cook Time
    3 hours
  • Serving
  • View


This is not your Nana’s Sunday sauce, and this is not Rao’s bolognese and this is not an authentic Sicilian red gravy.  This is the way my mother made spaghetti sauce in Anniston, Alabama.  It is hearty and tomatoey and easy and forgiving and extremely comforting.  A rustic Italian red wine would pair perfectly with this.  If you have Sinatra on vinyl now’s the time to play it.

And this is a picture of my beautiful mother when she was young!  Nice wheels, don’t you think?



    This is for a lazy afternoon. Do your prep work, saute the beef and vegetables and then let the sauce cook gently as long as you want to. Bring it to a low boil just once, before you reduce it to a simmer.

    Step 1

    In a big Dutch oven, cook and brown the ground beef. If necessary, pour off excess oil. Then add the onion, bell peppers and garlic. Don't burn the garlic. (Wasn't Betty pretty when she first met my Dad?) Cook until you have some color on the onions. Stir often with a wooden spoon to avoid scorching.

    Step 2

    Add red wine and cook it down (reduce) if you're using it.

    Step 3

    Add the canned tomatoes and crush or cut up the whole ones. You can do this with your wooden spoon or even a knife and fork. (Another option is to use canned crushed tomatoes). Then add the tomato sauce and paste. (She's still beautiful!)

    Step 4

    Channel Sophia Loren. Add the herbs. You can use both fresh and dried oregano. Oregano is the driving herbal force here. So, if you're using fresh, scrape it off the stem into the pot. Add red pepper flakes, bay leaf, garlic powder, fennel and sugar. Look, this tastes a little different every time but you really can't mess it up. Just taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly.

    Step 5

    Bring to a gentle boil once, then reduce heat and simmer all afternoon.

    Step 6

    Serve over pasta with a chiffonade of fresh basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

    You May Also Like

    Leave a Review

    Your email address will not be published.