Posts have been coming slow and will continue to come slow until I get my financial situation together. In short, I’m super broke, so buying specific items for specific recipes isn’t going to happen too often for a while. Lately I’ve been buying things that happen to be on sale and eating as much free food as possible.
However, an exception had to be made for my family’s spaghetti. When you’re thinking in bulk pricing, this recipe is actually pretty cost effective. But even though I cut the recipe in half, and even though I had some of the ingredients already, my trip to the store was still over $30. Thankfully my sister enthusiastically agreed to go halfsies on the cost. This spaghetti sauce recipe is huge so that it can be frozen and stored. I cut the recipe in half, gave two-thirds of it to my family, and still my husband and I ate it for a week. And, no, we didn’t get tired of it. It’s freaking delicious.
This is a funny recipe. First of all, it’s not technically spaghetti sauce. My grandmother and grandfather created this recipe together, and I think they set out to make spaghetti sauce, but it ended up something different. Spaghetti sauce is called spaghetti sauce because it’s served with spaghetti noodles, and this sauce is served with shell noodles. Also, it doesn’t have an overly Italian flavor. It’s got a heaviness to it that’s more southern American than Italian, so I feel the need to rename it. Right now, I’m going with Southern-Style Conchiglie Sauce, conchiglie being the Italian word for the shell-shaped pasta. If anyone has a better name, let me know.
The other funny thing is the ingredients. For instance, one of the ingredients is Ragu. That’s right. One of the ingredients in my family’s legendary spaghetti sauce is….spaghetti sauce. When I laid all the ingredients out for the photo, David was dumbfounded. He told me, “I don’t get it! Your mom’s recipes are so mythical to you, but the stuff you make is so much more authentic!” Of course, he ate his words when he tasted the sauce. There was a time when I was going through an all-natural, made-from-scratch phase, and I tried to make a few of my mom’s less-than-scratch recipes from scratch. They didn’t turn out so well. Then it dawned all me: why gather all these individual ingredients when they’re already put together in a convenient package for you? It’s a superficial, time-consuming change to make something from scratch when it’s wonderful the way it is. I do think I would like to figure out a from-scratch recipe in the future, but not because it would be more authentic. Some day, they’re going to stop making Ragu or any one of the other pre-made ingredients, and I’ll still want to be able to make this sauce.
Note: Only half portions of the ingredients are pictured, and I forgot to put the bay leaves in the photo.
There’s a cute story about the cream of chicken soup. My grandmother was, understandably, very against putting it in, while my grandfather thought cream of chicken soup in spaghetti was a great idea. However, my grandmother put her foot down, so every time they made the recipe, my grandfather would wait until my grandmother wasn’t looking and sneak a can into the pot. And every time my grandmother would tell him, “See? It’s perfect without the soup.” Apparently my mother and the other kids kept his secret for years before my grandmother figured it out. Ultimately, the soup stayed, because the combination was indeed perfect.
There’s only one thing I’m going to change about the recipe. It calls for 10 lb. of ground beef, and I’m going to say ground beef or turkey. Turkey’s cheaper, slightly healthier, and you can’t tell a difference when there’s all the other flavor in the mix.
- 10 lb. ground beef or turkey
- 1 lb. Tennessee Pride hot sausage (or similar brand)
- 32 oz. tomato sauce
- 32 oz. tomatoes, chopped or diced
- 2 or 3 large bell peppers, diced
- 3 or 4 large onions, diced
- 2 lb. mushrooms, chopped or sliced
- 2 large (45 oz.) jars Ragu
- 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package McCormick’s spaghetti seasoning
- ½ to 1 tbsp. crush red pepper
- 2 cans cream of chicken
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bottle chili sauce
- 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
Brown hamburger and sausage in a skillet and drain. Place all ingredients except cheese in large pot and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is hot and onions are slightly transparent. Remove the bay leaves*. Cheese can be mixed into the warm sauce or sprinkled on top of each dish. Serve with shell noodles (conchiglie). Sauce can be frozen for storage.
*If you can’t find the bay leaves, that’s okay. Who’s Got the Bay Leaf is a fun game to play at the dinner table.