Dad's Spaghetti Sauce


Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce

Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 3 Hours Total Time: 3 Hours 20 Mins


  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and finely chopped
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • A couple pinches of dried thyme (or, shudder, oregano)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 29-ounce cans Hunts tomato sauce (it has to be Hunts)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mellow red wine


  1. If you’re using whole canned tomatoes, pour them into a bowl and break them up with your hands. This is an incredibly fun job for a child (who has no hang nails or paper cuts).
  2. Now, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion with one teaspoon of salt, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until it’s translucent and just starting to color.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté, still stirring frequently, for another minute or two.
  4. Now crumble in the meat, add the cayenne and oregano or thyme, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook the meat, stirring occasionally and breaking it up with a spatula, until it is cooked all over and browning in spots; if it seems like it’s steaming more than sizzling, turn the heat up even higher.
  5. Now stir in all the tomato products, as well as the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, lots of black pepper, and the optional wine, and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, with the lid 1/2 inch ajar, for 3 hours (or, at the very least, 2).
  6. Stir the sauce occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve over hot, buttered pasta with freshly grated parmesan for passing.