If ever there was a meal that defined my childhood, my Mom’s spaghetti would be at the top of the list, followed closely by my Granny Hamilton’s fried chicken (the topic of a future blog post). This was not the Italian Mama cook all day spaghetti sauce. It was the working Mom raising 5 kids and helping take care of a farm variety of spaghetti, and it was AMAZING. It was even better when served with slices of Colby Cheese on the side. It’s the way my Dad always ate it and the rest of us decided it was a great idea!
My Mom was always able to take what she had on hand, fit it into the time she had available to prepare it, and make us feel like we were the luckiest family ever to sit down at a table. And, there was always, ALWAYS, room for one more person. Yes, our house really did feel like the Waltons except we had chairs instead of benches.
So, this is her family staple spaghetti sauce that I have evolved into something that fits me. It is also the sauce I use for my lasagna which my kids would probably say is MY meal that defined their childhood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have for nearly sixty years now. Pssst…the secret ingredient really is love. Although in all of the rest of Mom’s recipes, it’s bacon grease. Just sayin’…
48 fluid ounces tomato juice (I use two large cans of crushed tomatoes in my version and those work fine, too)
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 envelopes Lawry’s Spaghetti Sauce Mix (I also use McCormick’s Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix in my version for a little extra spice and thickness)
4 tsp. A-1 Steak Sauce (Has to be A-1, it just doesn’t taste the same if you use anything else)
4 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
salt to taste
Brown the ground beef with the onion, salting to taste. Drain off fat. In a large Dutch oven blend the tomato juice or crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce mix, A-1 sauce, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Mix well and make sure there are no lumps of dry sauce mix. Add the ground beef and onions. Simmer for at least 30 minutes on low.
This recipe is a baseline to start with. As with almost all family recipes, every cook alters the amounts or the ingredients to suit the tastes of their family or to accommodate any special dietary needs.
You can make this ahead and refrigerate for use within 2-3 days. In fact, this is one of those recipes that actually tastes better the next day, as the flavors have had time to marry. It is also freezer friendly.