Recipe shared by James Brett (Las Vegas, Nevada) 

A long tradition of mine has been to invite friends over for a Sunday evening gathering of my now-infamous spaghetti sauce that, when prepared well in advance, has a very rich and tasty sweet flavour that complements fresh pasta, topped by a good sharp parmesan cheese and accompanied by some freshly baked buttery garlic bread.

1 cup pure extra virgin olive oil
cloves from one head of garlic – peeled and finely chopped to yield a scant ¼ cup
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped to yield 1 cup
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2.2 lb (1 kg) 85% lean ground beef, preferably organic
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
5 dried bay leaves
½ cup soft brown sugar, or more to taste
1 large can tomato sauce
2 large cans chopped, stewed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano type – drained of excess juice
1 small tin of tomato paste

  1. Using a large cooking pot and over medium heat, carefully bring the olive oil to a frying/browning temperature and place garlic in oil first
  2. Let the garlic sauté with the oil in a calm sizzle for a few minutes, stirring frequently
  3. Carefully drop in the diced onion, add the salt and stir frequently to cook and soften onion to a ‘pre-brown’ state (do not burn or brown the onion!)
  4. Once the onion and garlic have nicely softened and sautéed in the olive oil add in all of the ground beef and with a large wooden or similar non metallic spoon, ensuring that the beef and onion/garlic are mixing up and continue stirring while starting to brown the beef, still on a medium to low medium heat
  5. Do not cook the beef too fast!
  6. Within the first minute of starting to cook the beef, add in all of the spices; basil, oregano, bay leaves and brown sugar
  7. Continue to stir often until the meat has browned and cooked nicely, for approximately at least 10 minutes
  8. Ensure that the canned stewed tomatoes are drained of as much tomato juice and discard the juice add in the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste and continue to stir constantly to ensure all ingredients are well mixed together
  9. Once the completed sauce is well mixed together, lower the heat to a low simmer temperature
  10. For the richest possible sauce at your first serving, cover the pot with a well fitting lid and let the sauce simmer on a very low heat for at least two hours, while stirring regularly every 15 to 20 minutes
  11. Sauce should continue to cook and ‘bubble’ while simmering!
  12. Remove from heat about 30 minutes prior to serving and keep the saucepan covered 

TO SERVE – Right before serving, stir the sauce vigorously but carefully to ensure all the wonderful oily juices are mixed back into the sauce. (Caution, as the sauce will still be very hot, the saucepan contents could splash and burn). Serve the sauce over a bed of fresh pasta (drained and that has been pre-tossed with extra virgin olive oil for extra flavour and to prevent the pasta from sticking together). Top your pasta and sauce with freshly grated Parmesan or similar sharp cheese.

STORAGE NOTES: Extra sauce should be cooled completely before placing in freezer containers and it can be easily frozen to be enjoyed later. To reheat, ensure the sauce is defrosted thoroughly by leaving out at room temperature or placing the frozen container in warm water for 3 to 6 hours. Then place in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a nice, hot serving temperature.