Ann's Spaghetti Sauce


Ann’s Spaghetti Sauce

Mary Jane’s mother, Ann, grew up in New Orleans. Though not Italian, Ann’s family was influenced by the amazing Italian cuisine of New Orleans. This sauce is a traditional Italian red sauce. Use it on spaghetti, ravioli, or in lasagna.


  • 2 lbs. good quality ground chuck
  • 1 Medium sized onion chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large stalks or 4-5 small stalks of celery peeled and chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • A couple of pinches of salt
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 28oz. can peeled whole tomatoes (empty into big bowl and smash tomatoes with fingers until broken up)
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • Fine ground black pepper to taste (about half a teaspoon)

Note: My brother-in-law pointed out that Ann would add about a teaspoon of sugar to offest the acidity of the tomatos. We haven’t needed to do this for our sauce, but you may choose to for yours.

Cooking Directions

  1. Brown the ground meat in a large pot or dutch oven. Brown until no longer pink, but not overdone. Spoon browned meat into colander over stainless steel or glass bowl. Set aside
  2. Pour fat that remains in pot into a jar to discard later. However, keep a little bit of the fat in pot to sauté the vegetables. Occasionally press down on meat in colander with big spoon. You want as much fat as possible to drain out of meat.
  3. Keep burner on between low and medium heat and add the onions and celery. Throw in a couple of pinches of salt and stir/sauté until tender. Then, grate garlic in with the onions and celery and stir in for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  4. Toss in the flour and work it through the vegetables. This should only take a minute at most, you don’t want it to burn.
  5. Add the tomato paste and work it through the vegetables for a minute at most. Add the tomato sauce, then the smashed whole tomatoes. Stir together. Add the meat back into the pot and stir together. Add 3 cups of water and stir together. Add the bay leaf/leaves if small. Add the Italian seasoning and pepper and stir in.
  6. Let simmer on stove for about an hour and a half to 2 hours to cook down, stirring occasionally. Check later into simmering to see if needs more salt. If during simmer, sauce gets too thick, add remaining water and cook to the thickness you want.
  7. Once it looks like it’s done to your desired level of thickness, it’s ready to serve over the spaghetti or your pasta of choice. Or, let cool down a bit and put in the fridge overnight. It tastes even better if you wait until the next day. The sauce also freezes well, so you can save for later meals. It also makes for a great sauce base for lasagna!
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