Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big George's Rockin' Spaghetti Sauce (The Best Veggie Sauce Ever!!)

When I try something yummy, I'm not afraid to beg and plead to get the recipe. And when people ask me for a recipe, I always willingly pass along my secrets. (Duh, I have a blog.) Well, a long time ago, up in Highlands, North Carolina, I began begging for the recipe for the yummiest spaghetti sauce I have ever had.

My parents, John, and I were all invited to spend the weekend with Betty & George Heery at their mountain house in Highlands. (I grew up with their kids, Neal & George.)
We sat in the hot tub, played poker, drank vodka gimlets, and had the most amazing yummy spaghetti I've ever had. I watched as George opened a ziplock bag, the contents of which had been thawing, poured it into a big pot, threw in some spices and a whole stick of butter, and stirred. I was intrigued but didn't think much of it until we sat down to dinner.  Dios mio! Oh santo cielo! It was fabulous. It was not your typical marinara, but something smooth and silky, almost. I think the key is the pureeing, or maybe it's the stick of butter.

The good thing about this recipe is that it can be made as is, and frozen in batches, or given to neighbors or friends. Or you can cut the recipe into thirds. But as long as you're making it, go for the bulk and have something in your back pocket freezer for a night with nothing in the house. (I've taken a liking to the blogger way of slipping up in conversation by crossing out what you really mean and putting something more appropriate.)

One time, we had a bunch of John's Millsaps friends up to Beersheba to celebrate his 30th birthday (about 8 1/2 years ago) and I served this for dinner. It has since been passed along to Mississippi and been given a name:

Big George's Rockin' Spaghetti Sauce

3 large cans of Italian Plum Tomatoes, juice and all
3 medium onions, roughly chopped
3-4 ribs celery, roughly chopped

(Did you know that a stalk of celery is the whole shebang with lots of ribs. Mr. Heery taught me that the same weekend he told me the recipe.)

3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup soybean oil

(It's usually labeled vegetable oil, but you have to read the ingredients to be sure it's not sunflower oil or something else. I'm not sure of the fundamental difference in a recipe, but he was insistent.)

1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh basil leaves

Put all this in a big ol' pot and let simmer on the stove for 1 1/2 hours. There's no need to do any tiny dice or anything because you're going to puree it later.
Before . . .

After . . .

After time's up, pull out your cuisenart - nope, stick blender - nope, good ol' fashioned blender and using a glass measuring cup or something similar, fill up the blender and puree. (I once tried with a cuisenart, but all the liquid got into the middle and oozed out. I've also tried with a stick blender, but it just never gets that super smooth consistency that way. Stick with a regular blender.) I really let it go for a while, stopping every so often to make sure the stuff on top gets down to the bottom.  (Look at how orange it gets!)

Pour it into a different large pot. It takes about 3 or 4 batches to get it all through the blender. And lookey there! It changed colors! It goes from red to orange. I cannot tell you the ribbing I got from Chad Danner (now owner of T-bones in Chattanooga). I think it freaked him out.

Anywho . . . once it's all been pureed, add the following:
1 stick of butter
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar

Let it heat on extremely low, just to stay warm, for another 30 minutes to let those flavors really meld. Oh my yum! It's so good. Tonight we had it with some fresh cheese ravioli. But it's fantastic with good ol' spaghetti. A few times I've even made homemade gnocchi. (That sounds like another blog post!). That time I served it with shredded mozzarella instead of parmesan in an effort to mimic the gnocchi at Pasta Vino. Mmm . . . it is SO good. This is just about the best only way to get veggies into Frances. Have I mentioned? My 8 year old eats NO vegetables and NO fruit. You think I'm joking. She'll lick a strawberry and lick a pickle, although it's been about a year since she did that. I serve this almost always with Sister Schubert rolls. The girls usually ask for a separate bowl of just sauce to dip the rolls in.

I hope you decide to make this. It will make me happy.


  1. yummy! Finally made your infamous tomato sauce. And both my picky husband and 5-year-old even loved it. So, here were my edits:
    - used fresh tomatoes (six)and one can of diced tomatoes (because I had to do something with all the tomatoes from our garden)
    - skipped the celery (b/c I didn't have any)
    - used olive oil (b/c it was that or canola and I thought olive would go better; also I cut the oil proportion by 2/3 and only used 1/4 cup
    - used 2/3 less butter (only 1/3 of a stick)
    - used half the sugar (only 1 tsp)
    And it came out great. Froze leftover and just finished it up today.
    Again, yum!

  2. so, now you need to post your squash casserole recipe, please!

  3. thank you-sounds great, will let you know results,Ab

  4. A good sauce that can be modified in many directions.

    I was there for the original serving of this one in Bersheba. Woke up the next day wanting more.

  5. That looks so good ����������