This is a series that I love to come back to. Cooking for a small army is something I do every day, but in order to save time and make future mealtimes so much easier, I love to make, like, 20 meals at a time and freeze them. This one is a Baisi (my Italian maiden name) family secret, and here I am posting it on the internet for the public. I expect to be chased out of town very soon by burly, black-haired women, brandishing a rolling pin.
Spaghetti Sauce is something everyone does, but when Clint and I do, what we call, a spaghetti cook-off, we make something so special, that it can only be called a special reserve. When all is said and done, we have at least 24 meals (1 bag feeds 4 adults or 2 adults and 4 kids) worth of sauce to freeze in Ziploc freezer bags, making future spaghetti meals a snap. All you need is pasta, and salad, and boom, you have dinner. For all my sisters in the Auburn Bay Angels group, I'm making these batch cooking blogs with you in mind. Batch cooking like this, is what makes it easy for me to drop off a meal to anyone, anytime. I just look through my catalogue of choices in my stand-up freezer, and I’m good to go!
But let me tell you my very, very favourite part about this recipe: everything you need can be purchased at Costco! I have got my sauce cost down to $5 per meal before. It's just that type of thing that makes the little Dutch girl inside me quiver with delight. (The other half of my Dutch/Italian heritage).
So here it is:
Special Reserve Spaghetti Sauce
Here’s What You’ll Need
4-5 huge cans of Costco tomato Sauce
4 Cans of Costco Diced Tomatoes or flat of fresh tomatoes (Your Choice)
3 flats of Costco Ground Beef
1 Flat of Costco Ground Pork
3 flats of Costco sliced mushrooms
Huge Sack of Costco Spinach (2 sacks if you like to sneak nutrition into food like I do).
Costco Italian Seasoning
Garlic-Costco has pre-minced, but you may want to get fresh and mince yourself. Your tastes here.
Olive Oil 2 Cups
Costco Ziploc Freezer bags
Or to make things easy, here is a picture of everything you’ll need.
1) You’re going to need 2 huge, huge pots. Like think of summer camp and the kind of cooking pots they use. If you don’t have one, three or four stock pots will do, OR (even better) 2 or 3 crock pots.
2) In the bottom of the pot, dump all of your oil. Heat it slowly and lowly then add your garlic. Let the garlic sit on med/low for as long as you can without burning it. Just long enough to give that oil a bit of a fragrance. Like 5-10 minutes is great. Keep an eye on it.
3) Add the onions chopped up to your tastes. I like to chop them small so that people who don’t like onions can’t tell what they are. Sweat them down until they’re translucent.
4) In separate pans/pots, brown all of your ground beef and ground pork. Set aside.
5) Add mushrooms to the onion and oil mixture. Toss through the mixture until all evenly cooked. I like to chop the Costco mushrooms down out of the classic mushroom shape. Again, this is to disguise what they are from mushroom-haters.
6) Add your beef and pork to the mixture. You may now start to outgrow one single pot and may need to start splitting your mixture so all ingredients are evenly distributed amongst your 2-3 stock pots or 2-3 crock pots. For a true Special Reserve, the crock pot method is the way to go.
7) Add your sauce to your pots. Generally, I say it takes one can of sauce to cover one flat of meat. That’s my optimal consistency. Some may like it more or less saucy. So sauce it to your heart’s desire.
8) Mix it through really well. Add a generous helping of salt and Costco Italian Seasoning to taste.
9) Wait for it to come to a simmer and then add all of your spinach evenly to each pot. You’ll have to cover it with sauce in order for it to start to wilt down. Mix through really well.
10) Now, the secret to the special reserve is the simmer. You’re going to let that bad boy simmer for as long as you possibly can. If you’re in crock pots, go for a full 24 hours. If you’re on a stove, just go as long as possible: low and slow. 5 hours is the bare minimum. You’ll know that you’ve reached something extremely special when you have a ruby red film of Italian, oily, goodness on the top. If you go the crock pot route, after 24 hours your mixture will have broken down to such a state of deliciousness that I can’t even explain the wonder to you. Your ruby red top layer, will pretty much change your life.
11) Now once your simmer is done, you have to let everything cool before you bag it and freeze it. Once cooled, you’ll get about 4 cups of sauce per freezer bag. We just use a 4 cup measuring cup to scoop it out and pour into the bag. Clint likes to freeze them flat so that they can stand up once frozen, almost like files in a cabinet! We love freezing in Ziplocs because it’s disposable and when we give them away, there’s no obligation for that person to return any of our dishes.
Hope you like it. Please leave a comment below, or email me with how your attempt went!
The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736