We’re not Italian and can’t even pretend to be. This meat sauce hails from a recipe from my grandma’s cookbook that was labeled “Hungarian goulash”? Last I checked, we’re not Hungarian and this recipe doesn’t seem very Hungarian either? In any case, it’s the meat sauce that I grew up with.
My mom has adapted that Hungarian goulash recipe over the years to this sort of Italian version and a casserole dish that’s really easy to make too. We didn’t typically eat casseroles but this one was the only one that we would eat. I’ll share that casserole later, but this is the meat base that is incorporated.
This sauce is untraditional but works well on rice or noodles so it fits our family. We know this because my dad has to have rice with just about everything, even spaghetti! I once asked him why he was having rice as a midnight snack and he said it was because he didn’t get his rice with the meal. We knew after that to include rice with every meal without question even if it was some sort of casserole or spaghetti. Dad eats his sauce with rice. We eat it with noodles (however now, we all try a brown rice pasta or quinoa noodle). It also works fine over vegetables like spaghetti squash or any variety if you like.
2 lbs ground beef
about 3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 whole garlic, which was about 8 to 10 pressed garlic cloves
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes, one can of water
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce, half can of water
3 handfuls of Italian seasoning
This yields a big pot of sauce, so you can cut the ingredients in half if you don’t want to make as much.
Brown the ground beef and drain any extra fat. I browned a package at a time. We prefer the meat to be fine and not chunky pieces. Add the garlic and onion and mix thoroughly. Mix in the cans of crushed tomatoes. To rinse the cans, we used half of a can of water to each in order to get all of the can incorporated. Add the tomato sauce and rinse can with the half can of water into the meat sauce as well. Measure about 2 handfuls of Italian seasoning and sprinkle in. (I know a handful is not a scientific measurement so it’s probably about 1/4 cup?)
Mom and I first used the wok to cook this sauce and realized that was a funny choice. I think we are used to the wok and worked great for browning the meat but we transferred everything to a sauce pot when our ingredients were dangerously approaching the rim! I also was cooking in a white blouse with no apron! I deemed myself very brave (or stupid?) You can be the judge, but there was no bleach needed in writing this blog…just sayin’.
We let this sauce come to a boil, then simmer for hours. If it starts to dry out, add water. You can add more Italian seasoning if you taste it and want more. You can add a very little bit of sugar to counteract the acidity of all of the onion too. It’s your choice to add salt and pepper to taste. We usually let the eater add their own.
This sauce tends to be better the second day as well. It may not be to everyone’s liking, but it’s really just a bunch of meat and tomatoes so you can’t go too wrong?!
Arrivederci…until next time!