Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

My Mothers Meat Sauce


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A few people have asked for this recipe. It is pretty delicious.

Ron’s Favorite Meat Sauce-

Brown about a lb. of ground top sirloin an equal amount of ground pork, a diced onion and as much garlic as you can stand.

Add 2 large cans of diced tomatoes and two cans of tomato paste, a can of tomato sauce, a ton of basil and as many red pepper flakes as you can stand. Salt to taste. Add a couple of cups of red wine and simmer all day.

You can add whatever veggies float your boat. Mushrooms, zucchini, whatever, Ron likes meat and red, but I sneak green things in.

It’s my mom’s recipe so I’ve been making it since I was 8. He can’t get enough. He has even learned how to make it himself. Not sure how I feel about that.

Now that I am attempting a version of an 18th century life, I try to find the most tiny rural butcher in as remote a village as possible. Rabbits hanging in the window are a plus. I either make the sauce over a fire, or on and in the AGA. You can’t simmer all day on top of an AGA, so you have to roast it inside.

More on the AGA later.


Okay kids, GO…

20 thoughts on “My Mothers Meat Sauce

  1. Katie Bonner (@bunnums)

    I love putting veggies in sauce like this! My husband thinks it’s odd, but he’ll eat it anyway. I’ve used shredded carrot, diced zucchini or summer squash, finely chopped broccoli, chopped spinach, corn. I’ve debated trying finely chopped green beans, but haven’t taken that plunge yet.

  2. emac37

    I love cooking and sneak green things in too… We had homemade meatballs tonight and the sauce was full of roasted colourful peppers and veggies…..whispers quietly while looking perfectly innocent Aubergine too. How do they know to get up at that point and move in your direction????

  3. nanci712

    It sounds so good. This recipe reminds me of how my grandmother cooked. Do you have a favorite pasta that you use this sauce with? Looking forward to trying it.

  4. eclecticdefined

    I grew up watching my Italian grandmother make “spaghetti sauce.” I remember the sauce simmering almost perpetually on her stove, and Grandpa chastising her for using Hunt’s tomato paste because it gave him “agita” (heartburn). When it came time for me to make it – at about 8 or 10 years old – I knew exactly what to do. She didn’t use ground pork unless she was making lasagna. She did make her own Italian sausages, which were a staple when we had spaghetti at Grandma’s. They were amazing, and we often had some of her sausages in our freezer.

    I sauteed onions in olive oil first, added fresh garlic (the more the better), then added basil, oregano, and salt. Once the onions were transparent, I added the meat, which had been cooked separately with herbs and spices – ground sirloin if we could afford it, but usually ground chuck or plain ground beef – and then the tomatoes (fresh, preferably, but canned whole tomatoes if no fresh available). I remember squishing the canned tomatoes as I dumped them into the pot so they were broken into pieces. The fresh ones were diced before putting them into the pot. Then I added a large can of tomato sauce or tomato puree, and of course, red wine – usually “Dago Red”, as my dad called it – Gallo Burgundy. He was a sales rep for Gallo, so we always had a case on hand. We often added mushrooms and zucchini late in the cooking process, and frequently more garlic was added, since it tends to diminish in pungency the longer it cooks. We added the pepper flakes individually, on our plates, along with freshly grated romano or parmesan, so everyone could add as much or as little as they liked. We went through a phase for several years when we added calamari instead of beef. It was cheaper than beef. We four kids used to argue over who had to clean the calamari (it was not a fun job). We used to marinate the tentacles in olive oil, wine vinegar, and herbs and eat them raw. That was long before calamari was “hip” and sushi was almost unheard of (1960s and 70s).

    I don’t simmer my sauce all day now, unless I use fresh tomatoes. Canned tomato sauce and tomato puree are the basis for my sauce, with only a small can of diced tomatoes with peppers thrown in for texture and zing. I do love arrabbiata – the spicier the better – so I definitely add a good dose of red pepper flakes. And like Ron, my husband likes meat, and lots of it, while I love lots of veggies as much as I love meat. My sauce now takes only about two hours to make, as opposed to all day like it used to. But it is still even better the next day than it is the day I cook it.

    Friends ask for the recipe – but I don’t measure anything. I just “know” how much of everything to use, and then adjust to taste. My daughter knows how to make my sauce, but she says it’s not as good as mine. Mine isn’t as good as Grandma’s was, either. Or maybe it’s just that in my memories, hers was something truly amazing.

  5. outlander roundup

    I just tried a sauce similar to this one that added a teaspoon (not heaping) of cinnamon to the mix. Strange ingredient but it tasted really nice. I’m definitely trying this one as it is. Love the look of it. nice and chunky.

  6. julieis

    Cioppino (38 years perfecting this recipe)
    I got this recipe when I was 21, and make it on an annual Cioppino event we have locally.
    Not Outlander related, but made by an Outlander fan!

    In a huge pot start on low heat
    3 large jars of any organic roasted tomato pasta sauce (flavored with basil, garlic, mushrooms is fine)
    3 large jars of water
    1 bottle of dark red wine. Cheap wine is fine here!
    1 Large handful of Italian seasoning rubbed in to tomato sauce
    3 cans tomato sauce
    Lots of pepper
    4 bottles of clam juice
    2 pounds sliced mushrooms thru the food processor – saute in some white wine, butter and S&P
    1 large bunch of celery sliced thru the food processor or small fingernail sized pieces- saute in olive oil, S&P (use jalapeno infused olive oil for a spicy hint)
    8 large carrots sliced thru the food processor – saute in olive oil, S&P, saute for 10 minutes.
    2 large onions dices and caramelized in olive oil. Saute until dark dark brown
    Add to sauce as they finish cooking.

    Cook this 6-8 hours, I usually put it on low overnight, but you can start it in the morning and it will be ready to add the seafood in the evening for dinner.

    Seafood: Add 30 minutes before serving
    3-4 pounds of shelled Dungeness crab
    Large bag (Costco) of Scallops – Quarter
    1-2 Large bag/s of shelled prawns
    2 pounds of tiny bay shrimp that has sat in salted (1/4 cup salt) ice water for 30 minutes (old chef trick to improve flavor)
    15 minutes before serving, stir in 1/2 cup of good Vodka (you won’t be sorry!)

    Serve with sourdough french bread
    1 stick butter
    1 pint of Romano/Parmesan cheese
    4 cloves of garlic
    Mix together,
    Spread on french bread
    Broil till brown and bake extra in low heat(200′) sorta of covered in foil, to make sure it is crisp when served with Cioppino
    Live Happily Ever After!

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