Chicago Meat Sauce Recipe | Sauce Recipes | PBS Food

Naples via Chicago Meat Sauce

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Laura of Des Moines, Iowa submitted this recipe which was a winner in our Italian recipe contest judged by Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia.


Prep time: 10 Minutes

Cook time: 1 Hour

Total time: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes

Yield: 6 servings



  • 1/2 pound ground beef (a fattier ground beef like 85%)
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small can Contadina tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large can (about 16 ounces) whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 large bay leaves


  1. Brown ½ pound of hamburger (probably a fattier meat like 85%).
  2. As it cooks, add ½ chopped white onion until translucent and a couple chopped garlic cloves. (Don't burn the garlic.) Drain.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 small can tomato paste; fill that can up with water and add.
  4. Add 1 regular can (about 16 ounces) whole tomatoes; break up those tomatoes. Then fill that can with water and add. Simmer.
  5. Add dried basil, oregano, and fennel seeds. Add 2 large bay leaves. Simmer with lid on but partially ajar. (If it becomes too thick, add a little water.
  6. Before serving, fish the bay leaves out. Taste as it cooks to see if the spices are right.
  7. Serve with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes at the table. It freezes well.
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