Food & Drink Magazine

A Meat Sauce to Write Home About & A Baked Spaghetti To Make You Swoon

By Weavethousandflavors

Joes_inn-001In the iconic Fan District in Richmond, Virginia lies the quaint Joe's Inn. Chances are if you've lived here long enough or have family who have, you've graced this eatery. 

It's a place known for its wood paneled walls, friendly service and hearty meals. And as a restaurant it's as neighborhood as they come.

But of all the brunches, lunches and dinners we've tucked away here, I find it impossible to get past Joe's signature dish -

Spaghetti A La Joe
Spaghetti baked with Provolone Cheese topped with your choice of Meat or Marinara Sauce

When it comes to meat sauces, this right here is King and though we never order it but once a year it makes a BIG impression.  You see it represents the superlative meat sauce - rich, hearty, heavy and of course, meaty!

I have been on the lookout for a meat sauce that incorporates everything I love about Joe's and I've found it! I just knew from going down the ingredients list, that this was 'it'. I refer to my fellow blogger veteran,  Thom's Marinara Sauce for the Motivated.

If you've paid any attention to Thom at all, there are two things you know lickety quick - the Man is probably one of the oldest bloggers in the community (well into his 70's) and the Man knows his meat! And he dishes it out slathered thick with his sauces & signature wry humor.

I guarantee you, if you pay Thom a visit at Barbecue Tips from Deep In the Heart of Oregon , not only will it satisfy your carnivorous urges but he'll have you rolling on the floor with his 'say it like it is' style.

I have reason to believe that Thom will agree  it has something to do with the fact that the older we all get, the more the need to cut out the BS!

After all, if you can't say it now, then when?

Anyway, Thom's recipe has been tucked away in the recesses of my mind for a few months now and it was time to put it good use. The thing about this recipe is that it's great for weekends with the family when you don't want to spend all day slaving over a hot stove and yet want some comforting, stick-to-your-ribs, delicous wholesomeness.

It makes best in large quantities and for a family like ours that means 1 batch gets used up now and the other goes into the refrigerator  - after all lunch boxes are calling!

Though I have used Thom's recipe almost to the letter, I've thrown in a few tricks of my own such as cooking all the meats together to save time and effort and allowing the sauce to cook 6-7 hours in the slow cooker. I think you'll agree the end result is pretty darn good - Yup, write home good!

So do yourself a favor and have a GREAT weekend - a 'stick-to-your-ribs' kind of weekend!

IMG_1594-001

The main ingredients are: equal quantities of ground beef (90%-93% lean) & hot Italian sausage, onions, garlic cloves ,mushrooms, red bell pepper for it's natural sweetness, olive oil, New Mexico ground chili powder, Italian seasoning, decent seasoning mix such as Prudhomme's or Mrs Dash's, salt  and large cans of chunky tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato paste.

I omitted the black olives and also added a touch of sugar to balance the tartness from the tomatoes. Also I am not using the Prudhommes seasoning as recommended by Thom because I need another seasoning salt in my pantry like I need a second head! I am using what I have in my pantry.

Prepare the ingredients -

Baked Spaghetti - Ingredients collage-001

I am using a mini-chopper for this but you can also do the chopping by hand if you prefer.  

Onions - Peel, cut of ends and discard. Chop the onions and set aside

Garlic cloves - Peel & discard skin.

Red Bell Pepper - Halve, get rid of seeds and membranes. 

Italian sausage - Remove from the casings and discard the casings. 

Ground beef - Place in a sieve & rinse under flowing water. Set aside to drain.

Mushrooms - Wipe with a damp cloth. Discard any brown, soft mushrooms. Slice and set aside. I use the whole cap and stems but if you prefer you can discard the stems and use only the caps.

Baked Spaghetti - Sauteing collage-001

Use a very large heavy bottomed stock pot. Pour the olive oil into the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic. 

 Saute for 7-10 till the onions are just beginning to lightly brown and have softened.

Add the chopped red bell pepper and saute for another 2 minutes or so until the peppers have softened.  

To the softened red bell peppers add the Italian sausage. Using a metal spoon break down the sausage as best you can.  

In a separate saute pan, heat a tbs of olive oil on medium high heat and saute the mushrooms for about 5-7 minutes till slightly brown and soft. While the mushrooms are sauteing continue to saute the Italian sausage for about 10 minutes until the sausage has turned opaque for most part.  

Add the drained beef and continue to break apart with the metal spoon. Saute for about 10 minutes or so until he meat is brown.  

Good to know -It is imperative to use lean beef 90-93% lean otherwise you will need to saute the beef in a separate pan and drain the excess fat before turning into the pot with the Italian sausage.  

Add all the tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato paste to the meat along with the cooked  mushrooms.

Next, add Italian Seasoning along with the New Mexico red chilly powder, salt, sugar and the seasoning blend. Stir and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes till well blended.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Now transfer this meat sauce into the slow cooker or crock pot and cook 6-7 hours on low setting. 

 

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So there you have it. One delicious, meaty and hearty sauce.

Make Ahead Tips - You can cook the sauce overnight in the slow cooker or you can make ahead and freeze 2 batches while using 1 for dinner. Each batch is plenty for a family of 4.

For the Baked Spaghetti -

Preheat the oven at 350 deg F.

Baked Spaghetti - Assembly collage-001

About an hour before serving, prepare the pasta as per manufacturing instructions, cooking till al dente. 

Sieve the cooked pasta and set aside to drain away all excess water.  

Layer the cooked spaghetti in a large 9" x 13" baking pan.

Spoon the meat sauce over the spaghetti till it is almost to the rim. You can adjust the amount of sauce you use to your preference but I like this with a lot of sauce so I ended up using as much as 3-4 cups.

For the cheese you can use a shredded provolone but I decided to go with a fresh mozzarella. 

Slice the fresh mozzarella into 1/4" thick slices. Spread the slices over the meat sauce. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the hot oven.

Serve hot or warm.

Rich and unbeatably hearty! This is a meat sauce that dreams are made. This is a meal that warms the belly and the soul. A chilled beer in hand and feel the strain of the day just slipping away.

And an added bonus for us moms? You don't have to ask the kids twice.

Recipe for

A Meat Sauce to Write Home About & A Baked Spaghetti To Make You Swoon

Preparation time - 20 minutes

Cooking time - stove top - 45 minutes

Cooking time - slow cooker - 6-7 hours

Serves 3 batches of 4 people

Shopping list

Meat sauce -

2 lbs ground beef (90%-93% lean) - Important, read step-by-step

2 lbs hot Italian sausage

2 large yellow onions

5 garlic cloves

1 large red bell pepper

1 lb fresh mushrooms

2# 28 oz cans chunky tomato sauce

1#28 oz can tomato puree

2 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp Italian seasoning

2 tsp good quality seasonings salt such as Mrs. Dash's or Prudhomme's Pasta Magic 

1 tsp hot New Mexico ground chilly pepper (more if you can handle it)

4 tbs olive oil for sauce

1 tbs olive oil for mushrooms

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Baked Spaghetti-

Meat sauce

1 lb spaghetti

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese or shredded provolone cheese

Preparation:

Prepare the ingredients -

I am using a mini-chopper for this but you can also do the chopping by hand if you prefer.

Onions - Peel, cut of ends and discard. Chop the onions and set aside

Garlic cloves - Peel & discard skin.

Red Bell Pepper - Halve, get rid of seeds and membranes. 

Italian sausage - Remove from the casings and discard the casings. 

Ground beef - Place in a sieve & rinse under flowing water. Set aside to drain.

Mushrooms - Wipe with a damp cloth. Discard any brown, soft mushrooms. Slice and set aside. I use the whole cap and stems but if you prefer you can discard the stems and use only the caps.

Cooking Method:

Use a very large heavy bottomed stock pot. Pour the olive oil into the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic. 

Saute for 7-10 till the onions are just beginning to lightly brown and have softened.

Add the chopped red bell pepper and saute for another 2 minutes or so until the peppers have softened.

To the softened red bell peppers add the Italian sausage. Using a metal spoon break down the sausage as best you can.

In a separate saute pan, heat a tbs of olive oil on medium high heat and saute the mushrooms for about 5-7 minutes till slightly brown and soft. While the mushrooms are sauteing continue to saute the Italian sausage for about 10 minutes until the sausage has turned opaque for most part.

Add the drained beef and continue to break apart with the metal spoon. Saute for about 10 minutes or so until he meat is brown.

Cook's Note -It is imperative to use lean beef 90-93% lean otherwise you will need to saute the beef in a separate pan and drain the excess fat before turning into the pot with the Italian sausage. 

 Add all the tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato paste to the meat along with the cooked  mushrooms.

Next, add Italian Seasoning along with the New Mexico red chilly powder, salt, sugar and the seasoning blend. Stir and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes till well blended.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Now transfer this meat sauce into the slow cooker or crock pot and cook 6-7 hours on low setting. 

So there you have it. One delicious, meaty and hearty sauce.

Make Ahead Tips - You can cook the sauce overnight in the slow cooker or you can make ahead and freeze 2 batches while using 1 for dinner. Each batch is plenty for a family of 4.

For the Baked Spaghetti -

Preheat the oven at 350 deg F

About an hour before serving, prepare the pasta as per manufacturing instructions, cooking till al dente.

Sieve the cooked pasta and set aside to drain away all excess water.

Layer the cooked spaghetti in a large 9" x 13" baking pan.

Spoon the meat sauce over the spaghetti till it is almost to the rim. You can adjust the amount of sauce you use to your preference but I like this with a lot of sauce so I ended up using as much as 3-4 cups.

For the cheese you can use a shredded provolone but I decided to go with a fresh mozzarella.

Slice the fresh mozzarella into 1/4" thick slices. Spread the slices over the meat sauce. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the hot oven.

Serve hot or warm.

Enjoy!


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