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Stick to Your Ribs Pasta Sauce

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1 Hour 5 min.


10 cups

When you live in a Northern climate, even summer nights can be chilly. This year-round pasta sauce tastes especially good after you’ve spent the day outdoors in the woods, working in the garden or plowing snow. My dad always loved a lot of meat in his pasta sauce so this was one of his favorites. Sometimes we would add diced Canadian bacon to the sauce as well. The whiskey really enhances the tomato flavor. —Guy Klinzing, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Stick to Your Ribs Pasta Sauce Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, ground, or links removed from casing
  • 3 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon summer savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) peeled Italian whole plum tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup whiskey or bourbon
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. In large skillet, cook beef and Italian sausage until just slightly pink. Drain excess fat and set meat aside.
  2. In large pot over medium heat, saute onions and red pepper in oil. When onions are tender, add garlic and continue cooking until mixture begins to caramelize and turn golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add dry seasonings, stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add water; scrape or deglaze bottom of pot and add the cooked meat and remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with shredded Parmesan.
Note: For a less chunky sauce, use a potato masher or immersion blender to break up the larger tomato pieces after they are completely cooked.

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