Set aside a couple of hours if you plan to tackle this spaghetti sauce. Trust me, it's well worth it if you have the freezer space to store all the homemade goodness it will yield - or if, like me, you repay the kindness of friends, neighbours and family with food.
This recipe is my own, and I've been tweaking and adding to it over the years (mentioned previously here). It has over two dozen ingredients plus 13 dried herbs and spices. The quantities below made enough sauce to fill my slow cooker - twice. You may want to adjust the quantities to your household.
Once that meaty sauce chock-full of fresh veggies has simmered in the slow cooker for the better part of the day, you're be giving yourself a pat on the back. Spoon it over fresh pasta and add some freshly grated Parmesan for the perfect winter meal.
Working in batches, brown 5 lbs of lean ground beef and 4 coarsely chopped Italian sausages in a large stockpot. (Note: If I have pancetta or prosciutto on hand, I'll usually throw some of that in too). Drain, then place half the meat in the slow cooker and keep the other half for the second slow-cooker batch.
To prepare vegetables, finely dice 4 stalks celery, 3 carrots, 2 sweet onions, and 1 head of garlic ('and a partridge in a pear tree'). Set aside in a bowl. Then dice 6 white mushrooms, 1 Portobello mushroom, 2 red peppers and coarsely chop 1 package of thawed frozen spinach.
Heat 2T olive oil over medium-high heat in the same stockpot used for the meat. Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for another couple of minutes. Push the vegetables to one side of the pot, then add one whole can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup floor, stirring vigorously so the tomato paste and flour brown slightly, but don't burn. Pour in 1/2 bottle fruity red wine. Note: If I have any antipasto on hand, like sundried tomatoes or marinated eggplant, I'll add this as well.
Add (get ready for it) 3 jars diced tomatoes, 2 jars marinara sauce, 1 cup ketchup, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup pesto, 1/4 cup HP sauce, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup Wochester sauce, 6 chopped anchovies, 3T Dijon.
Then stir in 1T each of chile, sage, tarragon, savoury, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic salt, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil and pepper.
Add half of this mixture to the meat in the crockpot, and cook on low heat for at least 4 hours. Freeze in dinner-sized portions, then cook the second batch of the meat and vegetable mixtures.