Big Ol’ Pot of Sauce

With a Big Ol’ Pot of Sauce, you could have this for dinner this weekend!

AND you can have leftovers in your freezer for some night when you don’t want to cook.

AND you can stand over the big ol’ pot eating this delicious sauce with a spoon or on little pieces of garlic bread. Not that I would ever dream of doing that.

This recipe comes from a sauce that my mom makes and calls Mostaccioli Sauce. The name is a little misleading since Mostaccioli is actually a shape of pasta and not even the pasta shown here.

In our family, Spaghetti sauce uses ground beef and Mostaccioli sauce uses Italian Sausage.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Italian Sausage?

So, let’s make a Big Ol’ Pot of Sauce! It’s easy.

Here’s what you need:

Italian Sausage* (about 1.5 pounds), mushrooms (1 pound), onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce (not pictured, sorry), bay leaf, dried oregano, dried basil,olive oil (also not pictured) salt & pepper.

Click HERE for a Handy-Dandy Shopping List

If you have an Italian market that makes and sells bulk Italian sausage, then you are a lucky, lucky person. I have to rely on the store nearby which usually only carries links. Also, you might have a choice of mild, hot, with peppers, etc. I think this is actually sausage with peppers and onions.  Get whatever sausage speaks to you.

Grab a BIG pot and add a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom.

If you have sausage links, you will need to remove the casing from the outside of each link. The casing is the thin membrane or coat that holds the sausage link together. Simply slice down the outside of the sausage and slip the meat out of the casing.

As the sausage begins to cook, use a wooden spatula or wooden spoon to break the links apart into small chunks.

This becomes easier as the sausage continues to cook so don’t worry if you can’t get the pieces very small at first. Just let it cook and you’ll be able to break it up a little more as you go.

Cooking along nicely. Little brown bits in the bottom of the pan will add delicious flavor to our sauce. We want to cook this until most of the pink is out of the sausage.

While the sausage cooks, chop up a large onion.

Add the chopped onion to the pot with the sausage.

Cook the onion until it becomes soft, golden and delicious.

Smash, peel and chop up 5 or 6 cloves of garlic.

Add them to the Big Ol’ Pot.

For this recipe we are going to use a combination of diced and crushed tomatoes. You can see that the diced tomatoes on the left will add some nice tomato chunks to the sauce while the crushed will add a smoother texture.

I use 2 – 28 ounce cans each of diced and crushed. 4 big cans total.

Add all the tomatoes (diced and crushed) and their juices to the pot.

Add 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce to the pot.

(You will have to pretend that this can of sauce was in the big ingredient photo at the top of this post. )

Now we should have 5 cans of tomatoes – 2 large diced, 2 large crushed, and 1 regular sauce all added to the pot.

Add 2 bay leaves, 2 Tablespoons dried oregano and 2 Tablespoons of dried basil. Salt and pepper to taste. (Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving. You don’t want to eat them.)

Bring the sauce up to a boil (big bubbles) then turn it down to simmer (little bubbles). Put the lid on and let it hang out for about an hour.

Stir the sauce occasionally so that it doesn’t stick and to continue to break up the hunks of tasty Italian Sausage.

While the sauce cooks, rinse or wipe off 1 pound of fresh mushrooms. Pop out the stems and slice into nice chunky pieces.

Yes, I rinse mushrooms. I know that there is a bunch of hoopla about whether you should or should not wash mushrooms. In the very least, give them a good wipe with a damp towel. Alton Brown did a whole show on rinsing mushrooms. He rinses. My mother rinses. Therefore, I rinse.

After the sauce has cooked for at least an hour, add the mushrooms to the pot.

Put the lid back on and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Note:  All of these cooking times are very approximate. I would cook the sauce for at least 2 hours total but it won’t be horrible if you don’t have that much time. Likewise, if you want to cook it longer, that’s okay too. Sauce is very agreeable.

Now is a good time to taste you sauce and adjust the seasonings. Feel free to add more oregano, basil, salt or pepper as you see fit. If you like spicy sauce, you might also want to add some crushed red pepper flakes.

After 1 1/2 to 2 hours of cooking time, add 1 small (6 ounce) can of tomato paste. Notice how much thicker and more concentrated this is than all of the other tomato varieties we’ve used. This will help thicken the sauce.

See how much the sauce has cooked down and reduced?  Be sure to wait until the very end to add the tomato paste otherwise it will stick and scorch the bottom of your pan. After you stir in the tomato paste, reduce the heat to very low.

How about some pasta? Bring a LARGE pot of water to a boil. Use a pot larger than you think you need. Pasta cooks better if it has a lot of room to float around in the water uncrowded.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a good handful of salt to season the pasta water.

Dump in a box of your favorite pasta. This is a thick, chunky sauce so I prefer short pasta with ridges to catch the sauce rather than long pasta like linguini or spaghetti. Try something like Penne Rigate, Cavatappi, or Mostaccioli.

Cook the pasta for 10 -12 minutes until al dente or tender but still slightly firm in the middle.

Add some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Maybe a nice green salad. Oh, and don’t forget the garlic bread!

The leftovers are even better than the original and the sauce freezes incredibly well.

Here’s to the Big Ol’ DELICIOUS Pot of Mostaccioli Sauce! Make some this weekend.

You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s the printable recipe:

Mostaccioli Sauce

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2 Responses

  1. Claudia – I love that you use so many Publix Brands…..which I do too. Cheaper than National Brands and just the same……. The longer the sauce cooks, the better it is. That is what my Girlfriend married to an Italian told me. When she visited me and I made sauce she told me it was raw because I cooked it less than an hour.
    I add sugar to my sauce. Cuts down the AGITO (Spelling?) which means heartburn from the acid in the tomatoes.

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