This sauce is a great all purpose base for pasta dishes. If you finely mince or shred the veggies they will just melt into the sauce so you can sneak them by very picky eaters. They also give the sauce a smoother texture.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 lb ground chuck
2/3 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed (3 links)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup onion, finely minced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely minced
1 cup mushrooms, minced
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 cups freezer tomatoes, thawed (or 4 15 oz. cans, mashed)
3 bay leaves
3/4 tsp dried basil leaves
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 1 Tbsp. of olive oil until nearly smoking. Crumble in the ground chuck and Italian sausage. Allow to brown a few minutes, then begin to stir occasionally until evenly cooked. Drain if desired (I don’t). Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the onion and bell pepper; cook and stir until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook and stir.
3. When all the veggies are softened make a well in the center of the pot. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes to the center of the well. Cook without stirring for a couple of minutes, then stir the tomato paste into the meat mixture.
4. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by one quarter, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to taste and remove the bay leaves before serving or storing.
Yield: makes about 8 cups