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Pat's Lasagna Meat Sauce

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“A lot of folks have their own good thoughts about lasagna ingredients, (Have you EVER had any BAD lasagna? I haven't!), but they don't always have a standard recipe for the sauce. Here, I've taken a canned spaghetti sauce, (I use Hunt's Garlic and Herb brand -- it tastes good and it's cheap!), and converted it to a nice mellow and hearty meat sauce for lasagna or for any other Italian dish requiring a tomato-based meat sauce. I have used this basic recipe for many years, making slight adjustments to the flavor as I made it each time. For about the past two years, I've decided that now, it's exactly the flavor I want for my large-pan lasagna. The end product does NOT have the tangy, tart flavor of basic spaghetti sauce, in fact, it's almost semi-sweet. I don't usually use the minced garlic in this one but if you like garlic, add all you want. I recommend adding any minced garlic AFTER the sauce has been blended -- sautéing the garlic along with the onions can make the sauce a little bitter. Many times I have used this sauce to make a huge pan of lasagna that I was taking to the homes of loved ones after a funeral. In every instance, it was always well-received by the families and the crowd went for the lasagna before anything else. I never see leftovers. This recipe makes a LOT of sauce but you'll be glad to have the extra in the freezer (I use sturdy, quart zip-lock bags) for spaghetti later at the end of a hectic day when you don't feel much like cooking -- it goes really well with store-bought meatballs too -- I get the Italian ones at Sam's Club. In any case, I hope you enjoy this Italian meat sauce as much as my own family does.”
1 gallon

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 lbs ground chuck, slightly browned and drained
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, chopped
  • 52 ounces spaghetti sauce, canned (no meat)
  • 8 ounces chicken broth
  • 12 cup dry red wine (e.g., merlot)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian spices (see directions)
  • 8 fresh garlic cloves (optional)


  1. Don't "fry" the burger -- just brown it slightly and drain off any excess grease. I use a potato masher to eliminate any chunks of burger.
  2. In a large cooking pot over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil and sauté the onions until they begin to caramelize a bit. At this point, add all remaining ingredients, including any minced garlic if you choose to use it.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so. Do not cook more than 30 minutes or the sauce will begin to "separate" from the meat.
  4. Use your sauce in your pasta dish after it cools a bit.
  5. For the ITALIAN SPICES, I always use Dee514's excellent blend. To make up a batch, (for all things Italian!), blend: 2 tablespoons basil; 2 tablespoons marjoram; 1 tablespoon garlic powder; 1 tablespoon oregano; 1 tablespoon thyme; 1 tablespoon crushed, dried rosemary; 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Recipe #38293.
  6. NOTE: Just in case you're wondering what I DO put in my lasagna, it's layered lasagna noodles (pre-cooked); ricotta cheese; cottage cheese; Sharp Cheddar Cheese; Parmesan or Manchego cheese (the latter is absolutely delicious and mild); Mozzarella cheese; and; frozen spinach (1/2 box). I top the dish by sprinkling on a little dried basil. It takes a deep casserole dish for all these layers -- the cheap throw-away aluminum turkey roasters, sprayed with PAM, are best but you have to double them. I cover it with aluminum foil, bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes, then take the cover off, and then bump the temperature up to 400°F for another 15 minutes until I get some browning on top.

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