Author Topic: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Recipe added #8 with help still needed on one part!)  (Read 5976 times)

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MacadamiaNut

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I'm making a big batch of spaghetti sauce as I type this and I have a question.  Forgive me if it's not really a recipe request but I couldn't find anywhere else to put this!

I like to simmer the sauce for at least two hours, if not more, so that all the flavors get properly mixed and the sauce thickens just right.  I have found boiling it quick doesn't give me the long-lasting flavor I want.  (I freeze smaller portions for later).

When you simmer sauce for that long, what is the bubbling supposed to look like?  I never leave it boiling but I find I am constantly changing temperatures from bubbling a lot to bubbling a little.  Should it just be warming on the stove and not bubbling?  Just bubbling a little (like a few bubbles pop up after you stir it?)  Obviously, I'm confused as to what "simmer" looks like and I'm afraid I may be killing the sauce.  Sometimes it gets too thick and then I remove it but it's not as flavorful.  :(

P.S. There is no medium setting on my stove just Low, 2, 4, 6, 8, then High.  All stoves are different too and I find that the middle number isn't really "medium" so stove settings advice may not help.

Hope what I'm saying makes sense.  Can you help me save my sauce?  Also, covered or uncovered?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 10:34:35 PM by MacadamiaNut »
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blarg314

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 08:54:58 PM »

For spaghetti sauce, I prefer a really low simmer. Get it so it's bubbling a bit, and turn it down slightly from that. For thick sauces, the main danger is burning, the other is that the gloopy bubbles tend to spray tomato sauce all over the stove.

Is you stove gas?  If so, a heat diffuser can be useful for simmering thick sauces. My stove doesn't have a good simmer setting, so I use the diffuser to get a better gentle simmer. If you only have two choices, I'd go for the lower heat option and simmer it longer.

If it gets too thick, you can always add it a bit of water and keep simmering.

I usually simmer sauces uncovered - you want some of the moisture to evaporate, plus cooking it covered will raise the temperature even more, making burning more likely. It's also easier to monitor uncovered.


doodlemor

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 09:02:05 PM »
I just got a virtual whiff of your sauce, MacadamiaNut, smells delicious!

I have the same problem with my stove, too, and find myself fiddling with the gas.  Unless you have a really super quality pan, err on the low side so that your sauce doesn't burn.  I would go with *bubbling a little,* especially if you have pre-cooked any meat that went into the pot.  If the worst happens and it does burn, pour it into another vessel without scraping any of the burned part up, and you may be OK.

When I had an electric stove I sometimes put pots half on and half off the burner to go really slow.  If you did that you would want to switch the hot side periodically.

Mikayla

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 09:23:40 PM »
I agree with Blarg that the lowest simmer you can get is the best.  You don't need mad boiling for the flavors to mingle, and you *really* don't need it getting burned.

If you have an electric, set another burner to low and make sure it's fully "preheated".  Then transfer the sauce and check it in a few minutes.  You may need to adjust it a little up or down.  You just want sporadic little bubbles appearing. 

If it gets too thick, add a couple tablespoons of water.  But wait until the very end to make sure any veggies are fully cooked! 
 

Hmmmmm

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 09:26:58 PM »
To me simmer is very few small bubbles and no boiling.  It is a gentle cooking method.  It's hard to say temperature setting on a gas stove because there is different btu levels.  But for gas, I'd say between a low to med-low. 

Google simmer on YouTube and you can see an image.

MacadamiaNut

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 09:32:06 PM »
Thank you everyone!

I can't smell the sauce when I'm inside so I frequently step outdoors and come back in to get the aroma.  ;D

I just began the simmer process so I will use these tips.  My stove is electric.  I'll stay on the lowest heat to go longer and make sure the bubbles are very little.  There's meat in there.  I stir it every 10-15 minutes and haven't had issues with burning when the heat is low but I have had it burn when I've flip-flopped on the temps over and over.  Glad to hear a constant low simmer will be fine.  It actually will be better I think because the meat cooks too fast if I boil too long at the beginning.  It's still good but it doesn't capture all the flavors like I'd like.  I can't wait 'til it's done now.  Thanks!

Cheers to you and good sauce!  :)

Paperweights, for instance - has anyone ever established what, when, and why
paper has to be weighed down? ::) ~Don Aslett

jpcher

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2012, 05:46:17 PM »
I'm making a big batch of spaghetti sauce as I type this and I have a question.  Forgive me if it's not really a recipe request but I couldn't find anywhere else to put this!

You do know that in order to make it perfectly "legal" for you to post this thread under this topic you really should post your recipe so that the topic-police don't bother you. Right?  ;D 

Just kidding, but if you don't mind . . . I'm always looking for ways to improve my sauce. ;)


I agree with a low simmer -- small bubbles. Does your stove have different sized "burners" (I don't know if electric stoves do or not, my gas stove does.) If so, select the burner size that closest fits your pot size . . . and don't touch that dial! A consistent heat works best.

I also agree with simmering it uncovered. If you have a grease-splatter screen use that to avoid messy popping bubbles.

http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Grip-EZ-Nonstick-Splatter-Strainer/dp/B00061N0J6





Zilla

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Re: Simmering Spaghetti Sauce (Need Help)
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 06:04:26 PM »
I would leave it with simmering bubbles or burping as I call it.  I wouldn't have it be constant bubbling, but bits here and there.


The most important thing is actually stirring frequently.




MacadamiaNut

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Thanks all!  Ok, you asked for the recipe, jpcher, so I'll provide it but just know that I make it from instinct so it has no exact measurements.  This is why I never eat it the day I make it since I'm already full from all the tastings.  ;D  I had some today and it came out fantastic but still there is one thing I want to perfect and that is the meat.  Let's see if anyone has any better ideas for this once they read the recipe.  I'm also not that good at writing recipes so just be forewarned!  I will bold all the ingredients to try and make it easier to read.

THE "RECIPE":

Open a bottle of red wine. (Red is preferred, but white is fine too)

Pour yourself a glass of the wine.  What is sauce-making without a little vino enjoyment?  Exactly.

Cut all the fresh vegetables however thick you want (I like them semi-thick cuts unless otherwise noted).
-One large onion (Spanish or yellow is good, or anything else as long as it's about the size of a baseball - just don't use red onions!  Those won't work well in this sauce!!!)
-One Green Bell Pepper (No seeds or any of that weird texture white stuff in the middle!)
-Lots of garlic cloves (as many as you like or just stop when you're tired from peeling them!  I never use less than 8.)  Smash and then chop into whatever size chunks you can handle.  The smash brings the juices out nicely.  I either lay a chef's knife over the clove and smash it or I use a flat cutting board and try to get multiple cloves all at once.  It all depends on how safe I feel based on the wine I've consumed by this point.  LOL! ;D
-A few hot green peppers, but de-seed them.  No seeds in the sauce!!  For other dishes, I usually cut them a different size than the bell peppers so as not to get them confused with each other, but in this sauce, it doesn't matter.  They will practically disintegrate anyway.
-A bunch of mushrooms.  Half of one of those little square boxes or whatever you have left in your fridge is fine but just know that the more mushrooms you use, the better.  I usually use at minimum ten mushrooms.  If I have more, no problem.  I just use all of those too!  Maybe stop at 20.  After that, it would just end up being mushroom sauce! Mushrooms shrink so though so it's hard to tell what they want from their other friends in the pot to make them happy.  Just go with your instinct... I have yet to figure out their motivations but they are very good at compromising themselves to other flavors, so no worries there! They are a very friendly vegetable.
-If I happen to have tomatoes (optional) that might perish, I cut those up and use them.  If not, no worries.  Fresh tomatoes aren't necessary for this sauce.  I de-seed these too.  Again, no seeds in the sauce!!!

By now, you should probably pour yourself another glass of wine.

Pour some olive oil into a large, deep pot and when it gets hot, add the vegetables in this order:
Green bell peppers and onions (Saute a bit until they're looking wet and slightly cooked)
Mushrooms (Saute some more until all three are playing nicely together)

Start adding some spices now.  I add hot red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and parsley flakes.  Then give it a stir and continue on with:

Add the hot green peppers and the garlic and also add two squeezes of ginger paste (new ingredient alert!)

Mix it all together and then you're ready for meat! (note, this is where I still need help)

Add one pound of extra lean ground beef and try to keep the pieces small so it doesn't chunk up.  Blend everything into the meat as fast as you can before the meat cooks too much!  I also add some salt, garlic powder and paprika here (new ingredient alert!) to make sure the meat itself will have some flavor. (This is where I need extra help perfecting the recipe!)

When it is all blended and the meat is brown, add one of those small cans of tomato paste.  (Add the fresh cut tomatoes at this point too, if you had them.  Add them before the tomato paste.)

Blend, blend, blend by stirring, stirring, stirring.  No stopping.

At any point in all this dry sauteing, if the ingredients get dry, just add more olive oil.  Similarly, if your wine glass gets dry, just add more wine.  See?  It's a very easy and laid-back recipe!  ;D

When it looks good, open one 635ml jar of Prego Original Recipe Pasta Sauce (or pour yourself a glass of wine first, depending on what you did during the sauteing.)

Pour the sauce into the pot and blend.  Run the hot tap water and fill the jar to almost full.  Shake the jar so all the sauce comes off and then pour all that into the pot too.

Bring to a boil (**This I may stop doing) and then start adding more spices, slowly and tasting as you go along.  A dash of ground cinnamon (new ingredient alert!!  Careful not to add too much or it will overpower the other flavors!), a bit more salt to taste, more hot red pepper flakes if you like it spicy, black pepper.

When I taste it next, if the hot is overpowering, I add some regular white sugar (unless I'm going to do the chili option that I'll describe later.) 

And then we stir and simmer and simmer and simmer some more!  Stir every 10 or 15 minutes.  You can actually simmer it for however long you like but I find it's better if you can at least simmer for an hour and a half. 

Keep tasting while simmering and add whatever spice strikes your fancy.  Also add water and refill your wine glass as needed.

At some point during all the tastings, decide if you want some of your sauce to be chili instead.  If so, transfer half of it into another pot, add some red kidney beans (canned - optional and only if you want to branch out the sauce!) and cook through.  Now you magically have two meals!  It will be good with some cheddar cheese on top and some toast or corn tortilla chips.  YUM!

When it's done, just take it off the heat.  It will thicken some at this point too. 

To eat, pour it over the spaghetti and sprinkle parmesan cheese over it.  A piece of garlic toast is a perfect accompaniment.

Then just freeze everything and eat it whenever you want.  There will be a lot!  If I missed anything (and I'm sure I did!), I'll revise the post. 

Enjoy!  :)
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 11:01:20 PM by MacadamiaNut »
Paperweights, for instance - has anyone ever established what, when, and why
paper has to be weighed down? ::) ~Don Aslett

JennJenn68

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After all that wine, I don't think that I could be trusted to simmer anything without it (or me!) catching on fire! >:D

D'you think that it would work with ground soy (the Yves Italian variety) rather than the ground beef?  'Cause I can't eat most meat...

Looks delectable otherwise... mmmm!

MacadamiaNut

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After all that wine, I don't think that I could be trusted to simmer anything without it (or me!) catching on fire! >:D

D'you think that it would work with ground soy (the Yves Italian variety) rather than the ground beef?  'Cause I can't eat most meat...

Looks delectable otherwise... mmmm!

Jenn, don't underestimate yourself on the power that wine gives you in terms of cooking (or even laundry for that matter!)

As far as the meat substitute? Only you would know the texture of that (I've never cooked with it.)  I think it would work fine but just know to put it into the mix at the right time.  If I had to guess, I'd put it in with the things that are of about the same consistency. In this case, maybe around the same time as the mushrooms and then go from there. 

Honestly, the vegetables and spice is what makes this sauce.  The meat is like an extra on a movie set - it has nothing to do with the plot.  You want it, but something else (or even nothing) will do just fine also.  And if they're not there, it probably won't make a big difference. :)  I'm not sure what adding it would do for the chili option though.  If you go that route, I'd say just leave out all the meat and don't substitute. You already have plenty of protein from the beans.  It will still make an awesome chili!
Paperweights, for instance - has anyone ever established what, when, and why
paper has to be weighed down? ::) ~Don Aslett

jpcher

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Thanks for posting the recipe! It sounds delicious . . . and I love the thought of splitting the sauce to make chili. How ingenious is that?

I never thought to put hot peppers in my spaghetti sauce . . . I'll try that next time for a little bit of a kick.

For the ground beef -- try browning it in a separate pan (no oil needed) adding the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to the meat while it's browning. I think this will help flavor the meat itself instead of just adding more spices to the whole pot. Cook it long enough so that most all of the grease cooks off (mine is more on the well-done side, I like little bits of really browned meat.)

Plus, by doing it in a separate pan, you can get a finer "chop" on the meat without crushing your veggies.

I'm also not that good at writing recipes so just be forewarned!

(snip)

If I missed anything (and I'm sure I did!), I'll revise the post. 

Enjoy!  :)

I love the way you wrote down the recipe! Very easy to follow and fun to read.  ;D

Except . . . I've read your recipe over a bajillion times and, for the life of me, I just can't find where/when you add the wine to the sauce . . . am I missing something? >:D



eta: forgot to mention this . . . maybe try ground Italian sausage meat instead of ground beef. This is something you could add directly to your veggies without seasoning. Personally? I prefer the ground beef because I'm not to fond of Italian sausage, but I do use the "hot" type in my chilli . . . just thought I'd throw that out there.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 03:05:54 PM by jpcher »

MacadamiaNut

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<snip>
I've read your recipe over a bajillion times and, for the life of me, I just can't find where/when you add the wine to the sauce . . . am I missing something? >:D

Ah, but the wine provides for the most important ingredient in any sauce or long cooking process: Patience!  ;D ;D

Thanks for the tips jpcher!  I'm going to give the separate pan browning a chance.  I'm not a fan of Italian sausage either.  Can't stand the texture of it.

Paperweights, for instance - has anyone ever established what, when, and why
paper has to be weighed down? ::) ~Don Aslett