5 Ingredient Homemade Beefaroni

I’m always trying new recipes I think my grandkids might like.  I made this simple recipe yesterday.  I was skyping with my son Benji who’s in Vietnam right now.  We were discussing all the different recipes he wants me to make when he gets home in a few weeks. I was showing him pictures of the beefaroni I was cooking and he told me that on the night he gets home from Vietnam, he wants that dish waiting for him.

  • 1 lb. good chop meat from Whole Foods
  • 1 28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped (optional if making for children who don’t like onions)
  • about 6-7 garlic cloves chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon)
  • about 3/4 lb. of macaroni
  • parmesan for serving

Saute onion for a few minutes in about 2 tablespoons olive oil till soft.  Add garlic and saute a few minutes. Add chop meat and brown over low flame.  Add salt and pepper and oregano.  Then add tomatoes and pure.  Break up the chunks of tomatoes with the spoon or spatula you are using to mix.  Cook over medium to low flame about 15-20 min. You don’t want to reduce or lose too much of liquid, cause you’ll need it.

Boil your water and cook pasta till al dente.  Drain, and add about 3/4 of the box or pound to the meat sauce.  You’re ready to serve.  If you are serving it later, just heat it up in the microwave, because baking it in oven will dry it out.

Shirley’s Amazing Barbecued London Broil Dinner with French Fries

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up.  I loved it with a passion, and I actually cooked it for the family on the grill.  This was the steak we had at our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Those were the best times.  Like my mother said often in the last few years, “Where did the time go?”  Over the years, whenever I made this for my mother, Shirley, she would say, “This is the only food I can eat and eat and eat.” I cooked this often for my kids and for my parents when my kids  were growing up, and at family barbecues.  My father Murray always said that this was the only steak he really liked.  People were always shocked to hear that the steak was london broil, and how simple the marinade was.  I think my mom actually got the recipe for this from our neighbors, Lenore and Arthur Velinsky.

So this past weekend, my son Danny requested that I make this for dinner for his friend Stephanie.  He wanted it to be the standard steak dinner I had growing up and I cooked for my kids all the time:  steak, french fries, salad, and LeSeur peas. I added buttermilk biscuits and homemade chocolate chip ice cream with my homemade hot fudge for dessert to the menu. Then Danny’s other great friend Mindy joined us.  Okay, this steak came out beyond beyond.  It was like butter, and so, so juicy.  Stephanie couldn’t believe it was london broil as she ordinarily hates that cut of steak.

All I can say about the steak is wow.

all you need is:

top round london broil- Look for an oyster cut if you see it. Look for a piece about 1 1/4 in. thick.  I bought this steak at Costco and it was phenomenal!  In the package came 2 steaks, and I made both.

The night before:  Place steak(s) in baking pan.  Pierce all over with fork.  Sprinkle  very lightly with Adolph’s unseasoned Meat Tenderizer.  Pour about 1/2 bottle of original Catalina dressing over the steak(s), and spread over with a spoon to cover- even the sides.  Flip steak(s).  Pierce with fork.  Sprinkle lightly with the Adolph’s.  Pour remaining dressing over steak(s) and spread nicely.  Cover pan with saran and put in fridge.

Next day – Take steaks out of fridge maybe 30-45 min. before you are ready to grill them.  Heat up grill on high.  Place steaks on grill. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  You want the steaks to form a crust on the bottom, because that’s where the amazing flavor will come from.  I place the cover down on my grill after the steaks are on.  But if there aren’t a lot of flames, you won’t get that crust. There isn’t that much fat in the london broil, so you may not get enough flames.  So this is what I do.  But you have to be careful- and an expert griller to use this technique.  And you have to be an adult to do it.  I take the cap of my bottle of corn oil, and I fill it with oil.  I drizzle some oil on the top of the steaks.  This oil drips down and causes very large flames to form.  Then I put the top down for a few minutes, and repeat if necessary till the bottom of the steak is nicely charred.  I flip the steak and repeat.  Once both sides are charred, using the oil isn’t necessary any more.  Now, I have a really crummy propane grill, but if you have a much better grill, you might not need to use this technique with the oil.

I’m pretty good at being able to tell when my meat is done.  But if you can’t tell, just slice one slice off an end to see how it’s going.  We like our meat medium rare.

When meat is done, take off grill, and place on clean cutting board.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 5-7 min.  Then slice meat sort of on the diagonal about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a good knife, depending on how thick you like it.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with juices from cutting board and serve.

for my amazing -not homemade- french fries:

Heat corn or canola (I prefer corn) oil up in a large saucepan- you will need at least 32 oz. of oil.  Watch the oil.  If it gets too hot, it will start to catch fire.  I’m guessing it’s about 350 degrees or so.  Take about 20-24 oz. of Nathan’s Frozen French Fries out of the freezer and place carefully in the hot oil.  I guess alternately you could use a deep fat fryer, which I don’t have and I don’t need.  Cook over medium high heat till crisp and brown- about 20 minutes or so, and wrap in paper towels for a minute.  I just line the serving bowl I’ll be using with paper towels. Then when everything is ready to go on the table to be served, I just dump the fries out of the paper towels into the bowl.  Sprinkle nicely with kosher salt and serve.

Shepherd’s Pie

These days most of my desire to cook revolves around cooking for my daughter and her family, and for my sons Danny and Benji.  My daughter had gone to Whole Foods and she and her family had eaten the shepherd’s pie from the hot food bar.  She told me it was the best thing she’d ever eaten and that I had to make it for her family.  I found a recipe on the Food Network site which looked pretty good.  I made it last week, and everybody loved it, but my daughter said it still wasn’t quite as good as Whole Food’s.  So I made it again this week, and basically added a  little more seasoning.  This time, my daughter said it  was just as good as Whole Food’s version. And my son Danny went totally crazy for it.  Yesterday, watching my two grandsons eating this and loving it was so gratifying.  I was “kvelling” from their reaction!

adapted from Food Network “Mummy Boome’s Traditional Shepherd Pie”

meat filling:

  • 2 3/4 lb. 85% chopped meat (I used Nature’s Promise or Whole Food’s grass fed beef)
  • 5 organic carrots, small dice
  • 3 organic celery stalks, small dice
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • almost all of a small can of organic tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup organic beef broth or stock
  • 3 tablespoons organic worcesteshire  sauce (Annie’s)
  • 2-3 cups organic frozen peas

mashed potatoes topping:

    • 5 lbs. organic russet, idaho, or yukon gold potatoes
    • 1 1/2 to 2 sticks organic salted butter
    • about 1/2 cup  organic whole milk
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour a few tablespoons of  organic olive oil (you can find organic extra virgin olive oil at Costco) in large sauté pan.  Add salt and pepper.  Sauté  onion, carrot, celery till soft and just starting to brown.  Add garlic, and sauté a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix in.  Add the meat, salt and pepper, and break up with fork as you brown. Add the worcesteshire sauce and the beef broth.  Mix and add the peas.  Taste for seasoning. Transfer meat mixture to large baking dish- at least a 9 x 13 (I have one which is a little larger). Refrigerate.

Make your mashed potatoes.  I peel 5 lbs. and cut them into medium pieces, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium heat until soft.  Drain in colander and then put back in pot over low flame for a minute to get rid of excess water in potatoes.  Turn flame off.  Add butter, kosher salt, and a little fresh cracked pepper.  Mash, and start adding the whole milk until nice and fluffy.

Spoon the potatoes over the top of the meat.  You should have a hefty amount of potatoes topping the meat.  Refrigerate until dinner time.  Then preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 35-45 min. until hot.

Note:  If you are not baking this right away, and you don’t have time to make the mashed potatoes right away, refrigerate the meat mixture  until you have your mashed potatoes.  I have refrigerated this for up to a day before I made the potatoes.  When I make the potatoes, I let them cool to warm and then I put them on top of the meat (which is cold from being in the fridge).  Then I put the dish back in the fridge till I’m ready to bake it. If you are baking it right away, then just it won’t matter if the potatoes are still hot when you put them on the meat.

Beef Stew with New Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, and Mushrooms

My daughter went to Whole Foods last weekend with her family, and she called me to tell me that they’d gotten the most delicious beef stew from the food bar there.  I called up the store, and asked what the ingredients were in the stew, and they told me.  So I put this recipe together even though I was missing a few things, and it came out delicious.  I bought stew meat at Whole Foods, and it was perfect looking meat.  I used as many other organic ingredients as possible, including Nature’s Promise tomato paste, organic carrots, potatoes, peas, and beef broth.

  • 1 very very large onion, or 2 med-large onions, finely chopped2
  • 2 1 lb. bags of organic carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 8-10 oz. boxes of baby bella mushrooms, washed and cut into large slices
  • about 4 springs of fresh thyme
  • about 4 lbs. organic red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5-7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • about 4 lbs. stew cubes (chuck) from Whole Foods (Their meat is the absolute best!)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 qts. (boxes) organic Whole Foods beef broth
  • 1 small can organic tomato paste (I used Nature’s Promise from Stop & Shop)
  • 1 small container of demi glace bought at Whole Foods:  Demi-Glace Gold Classic French Demi-Glace, 1.5 oz. from More then Gourmet

1. In a large pot,  pour the oil and put the butter, heat till butter is melted, and sauté onion till translucent and is just starting to brown a little.  Add garlic, and cook another 3 minutes or so.  Take out of pot.

3. Sprinkle meat cubes with kosher salt and pepper.  Brown beef lightly in same pot in a tablespoon of oil. Drain beef in strainer.  Put onions and garlic back in pot.  Put meat back in pot.

6. Deglaze the skillet with the beef broth.  Add about half the can of tomato paste, the demi glace, and simmer stew covered about 1 hour over low flame.  Stir every so often.

7.  After an hour or so, add the  carrot chunks and potato chunks.

8.  After another hour, add the rest of the tomato paste.  Add the leaves from about 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Cook another hour covered over low flame.

Note:  If you have too much liquid, spoon some out into a bowl and dispose of later when you are sure you don’t need it.

9.  Meanwhile, sauté the mushroom slices in a bit of olive oil and butter.  Sprinkle mushrooms with kosher salt and pepper.  Let mushroom brown nicely on each side.

10.  Taste beef.  It should be very soft.  If it is, then add the mushrooms.  If not, simmer covered till meat is very soft.  Turn heat off.   Add mushrooms when meat is very soft and tender.  Also, add 1 bag of organic Whole Foods frozen peas.

11.  Try to spoon any fat off the top of the gravy if possible.  Otherwise, after you refrigerate the stew, the fat will solidify at the top and you’ll be able to remove it.

Sweet And Sour Turkey Or Ground Beef Meatballs

My son Danny asked me to make sweet and sour meatballs, so I looked at a few different recipes, and then came up with this.  Both my boys really loved the meatballs, but I still like the texture more of meatballs made with beef.  I’m planning to make them this year for the Jewish Holidays, but I think I’ll use organic chopped meat instead of the turkey.  The sauce was delicious! I served them with baked stuffed potatoes, but they’d go well with mashed potatoes too.

Ingredients:

for the meatballs:

  • two pounds ground beef, or ground turkey (I used Empire Kosher ground turkey)- (I’ll use 3 pounds of organic beef the next time I made them)
  • 2 large or extra large eggs (3 eggs for 3 lbs. of beef or turkey)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (1/2 cup for 3 pounds of beef or turkey)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons for 3 lbs.)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (1 1/2 teaspoons for 3 lbs.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (opt.) (I didn’t use when I used 3 lbs. of beef or turkey)
  • about 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs (or matzoh meal for Passover) (one cup for 3 lbs. of beef or turkey)
  • 4 oz. unsweetened apple sauce (I used this to give the turkey some moistness) (I used this same amount when I used 3 lbs. of beef)
  • 1/2  onion, grated (didn’t use for beef)

Mix all ingredients together gently.  Dampen your hands and make into meatballs about 1 1/2  in. in diameter.   Set aside while you make the sauce.

for the sauce:

    • one (14 oz.) can jellied cranberry sauce (2 cans for 3 pounds of beef or turkey)
    • one (12 oz.) jar chili sauce (2 jars for 3 pounds of beef or turkey)
    • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar about 2/3 cup for 3 pounds of beef or turkey)
    • 1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice (2 T. for 3 pounds of beef or turkey)
  • 1/2 small 3 oz. can tomato paste (the tomato paste cuts the sweetness and makes the sauce rich) (1 small can for 3 lbs. of beef or turkey)

In largish pot, put all above ingredients.  Stir over low flame until everything is dissolved.  Place meatballs in carefully.  Place over lowest flame, cover, and simmer for about 30-40 minutes without touching the meatballs.  When the meatballs are firm enough, stir very gently.  Cover and cook for about another hour, mixing gently every so often.

You can serve immediately, refrigerate and heat up later, or freeze in freezer containers when it is cool enough.

Read on

  1. Pour the whole jar of chili sauce into a 4 quart saucepan. Fill the chili sauce jar with water and add the water to the pan.
  2. Add the can of cranberry sauce and cook over medium-low heat until the cranberry sauce melts.

Directions for Making the Meatballs:

  1. While the sauce is cooking, mix the meat, egg, and onion together.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (bread crumbs through black pepper) to the meat mixture and combine well.
  3. After the cranberry sauce has melted, roll the meat mixture into walnut sized balls and gently drop into the sauce.
  4. Cover the pan and cook the meatballs on medium low for one hour.

This recipe makes around twenty-four meatballs. Serve them with plenty of challah to soak up the delicious sauce.

Sources

Read more at Suite101: Sweet and Sour Cranberry Meatballs http://recipes.suite101.com/article.cfm/sweet-and-sour-cranberry-meatballs#ixzz0wvMfRISf

Steak Sandwich with Fried Onions, Mustard Mayo, and Lettuce

My son Danny, my mother, and I were watching an episode  of “The Barefoot Contessa” two days ago where Ina Garten was making some nostalgic dishes for her husband Jeffrey, including a delicious looking steak sandwich. Danny said, “I want that for lunch.”  Well, Danny had to go to work, so there was no time for me to accomplish that, but last night Danny and I came close to making Ina’s recipe,  just making a few changes.  We also made some fresh Jersey corn which I make by just covering the corn with cold water in a saucepan, bringing the water to a boil, simmering the corn uncovered for 7-8 minutes, and serving with butter and salt.  I had picked up a baguette at Panera bread and that is the bread we used for our steak sandwiches.

for 2 people:

for the caramelized onions:

  • 1 14-16 oz. sirloin steak or 2 8 oz. strip steaks
  • light olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. thinly sliced onions

for the mustard-mayo spread:

  • 3/4 cup Hellman’s mayo
  • 2 tablespoons Jewish style mustard, spicy brown mustard, or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons coarse, grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I used the yogurt to save the calories)

for the steak:

  • 2 strip steaks, each around 10-12 oz. or one sirloin, or skirt steak

to assemble:

    • lettuce, such as green leaf or arugula to top sandwich
  • bread for sandwich such as a baguette or 2 good rolls such as ciabiatta rolls

instructions:

Thinly slice 1 1/2-2 lbs. of onions.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of light olive oil in a 10 inch cast iron or other skillet.  Heat under medium high flame, add onions, sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon kosher salt,  about 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (promotes quicker caramelization).  Let sit for a few minutes until onions are browning, then stir. As onions brown, you will need to stir every couple of minutes.

While onions are sauteeing, sprinkle 1 14-16 oz. sirloin steak, or 2 8-10 oz. strip steaks or a skirt steak with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  While onions are continuing to  brown, mix in a smallish bowl- 3/4 cup Hellman’s mayo, 2 tablespoons plain non fat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons kosher style mustard or spicy brown mustard, 2 tablespoons of coarse grain mustard, and a little kosher salt. Set aside.  When onions are nicely browned, spoon them into a bowl and set aside.  Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of light olive oil in a saute pan till hot, add the steak, let sit on one side till nicely browned over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes, turn with tongs, and cook on other side, abouta 3-4 minutes or until steak feels firmish to the touch for medium rare, or longer if you like you meat more well done.  Place on cutting board, and put a tent of foil over for about 5 minutes.

Cut sections of the baguette for your sandwiches.  Shmear a light coating of the mustard mayo on both sides of bread.  Slice steak thinly, and place on bread.  Top with some fried onions, and some lettuce. Top with bread and serve.

Note:  Alternately, grill steak outside or on a grill pan inside.

Judy’s Healthier Pasta with Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

I have been making my homemade meat sauce with meatballs  for the last 3o years, and it remains a family favorite.  But recently, my children have been requesting that I make marinara sauce with meatballs as a lighter and healthier alternative.  So my challenge was to make sure my meatballs would be just as delicious even though they wouldn’t be cooking in my meat sauce.  Well, I did it!  My inspiration to develop the recipe came from my daughter Randi, who thought her baby, Noah, would love the meatballs.  Randi and her husband Dan have been vegetarians for the last 10 years, but have started eating meat again, but they still don’t want a meat overload.  So the perfect compromise is a great marinara sauce with my incredible meatballs.  As a bonus to health, I found fabulous organic ground beef at Costco.  It comes in vacuum sealed 1 pound packages which can be easily frozen, and easily defrosted.  The meat was absolutely beautiful, and had the freshest smell when  I opened it.  What a find!  This is a delicious and economical recipe that you are sure to enjoy. Update 2019: I buy my ground beef at Whole Foods- 85%.

for the meatballs:

3 pounds organic chopped meat (or ground turkey)

3  extra large eggs

about 3/4 cup ketchup

about 3/4 cup plain  bread crumbs ( I once substituted about 1/4 cup of organic oats and 2 tablespoons wheat germ for some of the bread crumbs, and the meatballs were just as good as when I use all breadcrumbs.)

kosher salt, garlic powder, and ground pepper to taste

Mix with clean hands gently; do not overmix.

Form into meatballs with a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches.

In a very large nonstick frying pan, put a drop of canola or olive oil.  Heat, then put meatballs in over low-medium flame, and brown for just a few minutes over a medium heat.  Turn meatballs and then COVER pan.  You do not want to really brown them all over, because they can become tough.  It is almost as if you are steaming them.  Take cover off a few times and turn meatballs.  This should be a gentle process.  Discard fat as you cook meatballs.  When meatballs seem pretty cooked, transfer them with slotted spoon into your pot of marinara sauce being careful to drain as much fat as possible before putting meatballs in sauce.  The meatballs don’t have to be fully cooked when they go in the sauce, because they will finish cooking in the sauce.  Simmer the meatballs in the marinara sauce over a low heat for at least another hour with cover on over a very low flame.  Recipe for marinara sauce is below.

for the marinara sauce:

about 1/3 cup olive oil

4 or 5 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes (Cento)

1 small can tomato paste

6-8  garlic cloves, crushed or minced

2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped very fine (I use the metal blade of the food processor and I pulse the onion until it is the consistency of chunky apple sauce)

kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 tablespoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or dried herbes de provence

1 teaspoon of sugar, if you like

Pour about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a very large saucepan.  Add crushed red pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon.  Then saute the onion till translucent, add the chopped or crushed garlic cloves, and saute with the onion till soft.  Add all  the tomato product, about 8 – 12 oz. of water if you think the sauce is too thick, about 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer over low flame mixing every 10 or 15 minutes.

After the marinara has been cooking for about 45 minutes, add the meatballs which you have prepared and par-cooked as instructed above.  Then simmer meatballs in sauce over lowest flame for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours with cover on.

Add more seasonings as needed.  Serve over pasta of your choice.  Or you can let the sauce cool and freeze it in quart containers with the meatballs.

Judy’s Sweet And Sour Meatballs or Stuffed Cabbage

I adapted this recipe from my Aunt Florence Fried’s recipe for the filling of her stuffed cabbage.  When I used to make stuffed cabbage, I would make extra meatballs for my children.  My son Danny was the one who really loved these.  My mother loved when I made this, but my father especially loved when I made the stuffed cabbage.

for the meatballs or the filling of the stuffed cabbage:

  • 4 pounds chop meat (85% or 90% lean)
  • 4 eggs
  • about 1 cup of plain bread crumbs (or matzah meal for Passover)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce for the sweet and sour meatballs or the stuffed cabbage:

  • 4- 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4- 6 oz. cans tomato paste (I use Contadina)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sour salt (or substitute 1 more lemon for sour salt 9/11)
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (reduce to 1 1/2 cups)

if you are making stuffed cabbage:

  • 1 large head of new cabbage

for making the sweet and sour meatballs:

Put all the sauce ingredients in a large pot.  Put over low flame and whisk till blended.  Then form meat mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Gently drop meatballs into pot.  Simmer covered over a low flame about 2 1/2 hours.    Do not stir until your meatballs have set after about 1/2 hour or so.  If you mix while they are still raw, they will not retain their shape.

for stuffed cabbage:

Core and put 1 large head of new cabbage in a very large pot.  Pour cold water in to cover.  Simmer covered until the leaves are soft enough to separate.  Lay out one leaf of cabbage at a time.  Put about one tablespoon of meat mixture in center but towards the bottom of the leaf, then begin to roll up, then fold both sides over, and continue to roll.  Do with each leaf until you have used all the leaves.  Put half of your sauce mixture in bottom of a very large pot.  Then put all of the cabbage rolls, then the rest of the sauce on top.  If you have any leftover meat, make meatballs out of them and add to the top of the pot.  Simmer with the top on about 2 1/2 hours.

Note:  This freezes very well.

Easy and Delicious Meatloaf

If You Make This Meatloaf Recipe, You Will Never Cook A Dry Meatloaf Again!  

This is another favorite recipe of my mother’s. And this was one of the few meat dishes that my father really loved. When I make meat loaf, this is the recipe that I usually use. I think this recipe came from one of my mother’s wonderful friends, Anita Lapidus. The first time I had this was at a fund raising dinner at the wonderful temple we belonged to in Plainfield, New Jersey, Temple Beth El. They served this meatloaf as the main course. We loved it, so my mother started to make it regularly. Now, I make it for my mother, she freezes the leftovers, and uses it for dinners during the winter.

  • 2 pounds of good chop meat – I use 85% lean
  • 2 tablespoons Lipton’s onion soup mix
  • 8 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (8 oz.), plus enough ketchup to make 1 ½ cups
  • ½ cup plain bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the meat, the onion soup mix, the apple sauce, about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and ketchup mixture, and bread crumbs – as gently as possible. Spoon some of the reserved tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of a 13 x 9 in. Pyrex baking dish. Put the meat mixture in the dish. Shape the loaf so that it is about 10 inches long by about 7 to 8 inches wide by about 4 inches high. Brush the remaining tomato sauce mixture all over the top and sides of the meatloaf. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Rich and Delicious Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (with or without Meatballs) with Benji’s Version Too

This recipe was adapted from my Aunt Sally’s recipe for her spaghetti and meat sauce.  If I had to name the all-time favorite family recipe of my immediate family and my Aunt Sally and Uncle Nat’s family, it would be this recipe for spaghetti with meat sauce.  My cousins Paul, Bobby, and Janie, and my brother Kenny and I all loved this dish.  And when you are dealing with picky eaters, and my cousin Janie and my brother Kenny would both get first place in that category, that’s pretty good.

My mother made this recipe at least once or twice a month.    My father (Murray Fried) also adored this dish, and it was one of the few meat dishes he really loved.  I can picture my wonderful father sitting across from me eating his spaghetti and sauce with pure delight as he sopped up some of the extra sauce with one piece of garlic bread after another.  My father always had a piece of garlic bread in his left hand at all times!  I still remember the bowl that my mother used to serve the sauce in.  It was a pink, plastic bowl.  (Just the other day when I was over my mother’s house, I checked up in the kitchen cabinet to make sure that pink bowl was still there.  I was actually relieved when I found it.  It’s amazing how we can associate certain inanimate objects with some of our most treasured memories.) Anyway, back in the day when my mother brought that bowl of steaming, red, thick sauce over to the table, I thought I was in heaven!  I couldn’t wait to spoon a ton of that sauce on top of my plate of spaghetti.

When I began to cook for my own family, of course this became one of my children’s favorites.  Of all my children, my youngest son Benji was the one who really went crazy for this.  He literally would (and still does at 18 years old) pick the plate up and lick every last drop of sauce off the plate.  Benji could eat this 3 times a week and never get tired of it.  I loved watching Benji eat his food!  Of course, I also enjoyed cooking this dish for my parents.  I got such pleasure looking across the table at my parents as they enjoyed my spaghetti and meat sauce the same way my parents kvelled  as they watched me devour my plate of spaghetti when I was a child.

The meatballs were something I added because my children started to request them.  My mother contended that there was no need for meatballs, since there was so much meat in the sauce.  But my father loved the meatballs, and so did my children, my husband, and I.  So the meatballs stayed, and I’ve been making the meatballs ever since.  These meatballs are light and juicy and tasty.  Everyone who eats them says they are the best meatballs in the world!

for the sauce:

  • about 2  pounds chop meat- 85% – 90% lean (original recipe called for 2 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • 4-26 oz. boxes of Pomi strained tomatoes or 4-28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes in either thick puree or tomato juice – You don’t need to do anything with the Pomi strained tomatoes; they are already pureed.  If you are using the plum tomatoes in the can, then you will need to put the tomatoes into the bowl of the food processor with the metal blade, reserving the puree or juice in the cans, and pulse until the tomatoes are just slightly chunky- about the consistency of chunky applesauce.  If you use tomatoes in thick puree, your sauce will be thicker.  If you use tomatoes in juice, then your sauce will be a little less thick.  I use the Pomi strained tomatoes because they are amazing, and they don’t need to be chopped or processed in the food processor!)
  • 3 6-oz. cans of tomato paste- I usually use Contadina or organic if I can find it.
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • kosher salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • red pepper flakes to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • herbes de provence or Italian seasoning (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • light olive oil- about 1/4 cup

for the meatballs (meatballs are optional):

    • 2 pounds of chop meat (85% – 90% lean)
  • 2 eggs, large or extra large
  • 1/2-3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup ketchup
  • kosher salt, ground or freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel and cut onion into quarters.  Put quartered onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse until onions are very finely chopped and look about the consistency of apple sauce.  (In the original recipe, the onions were not this finely chopped, but I started to do this because my children did not like to see pieces of onions in their sauce.) Then peel and crush garlic cloves and set them aside.  Put about 1/4 cup oil in bottom of very large pot.  Sprinkle the red pepper flakes in the oil  Heat for a minute.  Add the onions, and saute for 5 minutes or so until totally translucent.  Add the crushed garlic.  Cook for one minute more.  Add the 2  pounds of chop meat.  Cook for 2 minutes or so.  You do not really want to brown the meat too much.  (I use a potato masher to make sure the meat does not clump up while it is starting to cook.)  Add all of the Pomi strained tomatoes, or all of the plum tomatoes which you have processed as well as the reserved puree or juice.  Then add the tomato paste.  Mix well with a spoon or a potato masher to totally incorporate the meat with the tomatoes. (I use a potato masher because it works great!)  Add salt and pepper.  Cook covered over a low flame for about an hour, mixing every 15 minutes or so.  Then add some more seasonings, the 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a light sprinkling of herbes de provence, and maybe some more salt.  Cook for another half hour to hour,  mixing every 15 minutes.  If you are not adding meatballs, continue to simmer over a very low flame for another 1-2 hours until the sauce has turned a deeper red, and the sauce is done.  Check for seasoning every so often, and add more salt or red pepper flakes if you like your sauce a little hotter.  Your sauce should have cooked somewhere around three hours altogether if you are not making meatballs.

If you are adding meatballs,  prepare them while the sauce is simmering.  You will want to add the meatballs about 1 1/2 hours after the meat sauce has been simmering.  So you have plenty of time to get them ready to go into the pot of sauce.   In a large bowl, place the 2 pounds of chop meat.  Add 2 eggs, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, about 1/2 cup of ketchup, and about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper .  Mix gently with a large fork or with your clean hands.  If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more ketchup.  If it seems extremely loose, add a little more breadcrumbs.  Do not over-mix.  Make your meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Set them aside on a large plate until you are ready to place them in the sauce.

As mentioned above, add the meatballs into the pot after the sauce has been simmering for  to 1 1/2 hours over a very low flame.  Carefully place the meatballs in the sauce.  Cover the pot, and after about 20 minutes, take the top off, and rotate the meatballs gently.  You can be less gentle after the meatballs have cooked and firmed up some.  Continue to simmer the sauce covered on the lowest flame possible for another 2 hours or so after you put the meatballs in.  During this two hours, mix every 15 minutes or so.  Taste periodically, and add more salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes if you think it’s necessary.  When you mix, be sure to get to the bottom of the pot to insure the sauce doesn’t burn. Serve over pasta.

Note #1:  This sauce is very meaty.  You can reduce the meat to 1 pound or 1 1/2 pounds and the sauce will still turn out great!

Note #2:  Freeze any leftovers in quart containers, dividing the meatballs evenly between the containers.

Note #3:  I usually double this recipe when I make it, and I use 1 huge pot or 2 very large pots.  If you are doubling the recipe, you can reduce the meat in the sauce from 4 to 3 pounds, but still use the 4 pounds of meat for the meatballs, because you can never have too many of these meatballs.

Note #5:  If you enjoy casual entertaining, make this and serve it with salad and garlic bread, and everybody will be happy!  

After I made a batch of the sauce, my son Benji, loved it so much (I think he was a senior in high school around 2007) that he actually sat down on the floor of the family room with me and asked me exactly how I made that particular batch, and wrote down the recipe- so that he could make it someday himself.  I just found his written copy of the recipe (he is now going into his senior year of college), and as a tribute to how much he adored eating it and even more how much I love making it for him and watching him lap it up, I am writing it down here- exactly as he wrote it.

Judy Kahn’s Meatballs & Meatsauce

1) Coat bottom of big pot with olive oil.

2) Crush and put in 7 large garlic cloves.

3) Sautee 1 minute.

4) Put in 2-3 very large chopped in prosessor onions (very fine).

5) Sautee 1-2  min.

6) Put in 2 1/2 – 3 lbs chopped meat.

7) Use potato masher to mash meat.

8) Add 6 boxes of Pomi strained tomatoes (I recently used 3 boxes of Pomi and 3 28 oz. cans of Cento crushed tomatoes in puree)

9) Add 4 small cans of tomato paste (Contadina).

10) Mash up.

11) Add salt & pepper, herbs de provence (1/4 tsp.), 1 tsp. sugar, crushed red pepper (I have since eliminated the herbs de provence)

12) Simmer w/top on (low heat) 1 1/2 hours.

Meatballs

1) 3 lbs. chopped meat.

2) Add 3 eggs.

3) Add 1 cup ketchup.

4) Add 3/4 cup Jason’s plain breadcrumbs ( I now use Trader Joe’s organic bread crumbs)

5) Add salt, pepper.

13) Add meatballs to sauce.

14) Cook 1 1/2 hours low heat (covered).