Donatelli's - Meat Sauce Recipe

Total Time:
1 hr 40 min
20 min
1 hr 20 min

6 to 8 servings

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon beef base
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley leaves

Brown ground beef with minced garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Drain ground beef and set aside.

Place oil and onions in a saucepan and saute on high heat until soft. Add all cans of tomato products. Fill the tomato puree can with hot water and dissolve beef and chicken base in this water. Add this water and base mixture to saucepan. Add all other ingredients and heat through. Once hot, add the browned ground beef and simmer on low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over your favorite pasta -- enjoy!!!!

Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.

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    I'd reviewed this before. After reading all the other reviews I'd had high expectations for this sauce and was disappointed but found that leaving the sauce overnight gives it a chance for the flavors to meld properly. I strongly suggest making this sauce the day before you plan to serve it. I'd also add another pound or two of ground beef but that's a personal preference. I plan to try this sauce the next time I make lasagna. I think it will go very well in that dish.
    I like a thick tasty sauce and this fits that bill. But when I want a meat sauce, I want to be able to taste the meat. I think it's the 24 oz of tomato paste that overpowers it. Next time I'll try it with only 18 oz of paste. I also like a meat sauce meatier. This is a restaurant recipe so they do things a little differently than most would at home for themselves, some better and some to save on food costs. Next time I'll add another pound or two of beef. It is a good enough sauce that I'll try it again with a few tweeks. If anybody has any other ideas to get more of the flavor of the meat, I'm open to suggestions. To me the major reason for a meat sauces is the meat and if I can't bring it out more I'm just going to stick to my jar of Ragu. When I don't care about the meat so much this will likely be my go to recipe.
    Great meat sauce recipe! I did only use 1 can of tomato paste and added more garlic. It freezes very well.
    I grew up in WBL and loving Donatelli's. As an adult I've traveled all over the country, have lived in other states, and Donatelli's sauce remains my favorite. I made it yesterday, following the instructions exactly, and it came out perfectly. The exact same as at the restaurant. There is something very homey and unrefined about this sauce that makes it so good. Now seeing the recipe, I think it must be the beef and chicken base. My advice is to make it exactly as is and then tweak later if you really must. Also, some are saying that there is way too much paste but they must not have actually made it or didn't follow the instructions because halfway through the recipe it calls for a lot of water to dissolve the base into. This thins out the sauce to the perfect consistency. Also, we NEVER eat spaghetti o's. I make lots of ethnic food and am known for my good taste.
    I can never understand how anyone can rate a recipe after changing so many ingredients. I thought the idea is to make it according to the original recipe and after that, change to your hearts content. I made this and it tasted pretty good. I do agree with some of the comments, so the next time I make this I will know what to adjust. Two cans of tomato paste was a bit much. I always add red wine to mine and Italian sausage for more flavor. Please folks, don't rate a recipe after you have altered it up to the max.
    I'm sure glad I don't live in White Bear Lake, MN. Or, if I did, I would hope there was another restaurant to eat in. This tasted worse than Ragu. Too tart and lacking any depth of flavor whatsoever. I'm sure the 5 star ratings all came from parents of children who regularly eat Spaghetti O's. Ugh.
    Didn't you taste what you were making? You can adjust any recipe. Recipes aren't permeant, thats the fun part about cooking.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe, just I don't feel it was delicious...very good though, keeping it for my go to recipe for sauce. Did use 1.2 beef and 1/2 sausage. No disrespect to young cooks, but what I thought was so wonderful when I first started cooking and today are very different wish there was a place on reviews to check seasoned cook, just starting etc, if fact I think those first years when everything is new and great are a wonderful time in your life.
    This is a FABULOUS meat sauce!!! I made one change and that was to use fresh basil since I had it on hand...Otherwise, I cooked as is and the results were so awesome!! I could not stop tasting the sauce! I used this sauce for my lasagna and I can't wait to try it! I am freezing the rest for future use. I am so glad I tried this! Way better than jar sauce. It tastes so great! Thanks for posting!!
    Great base for a recipe. I made a few small tweaks, and it was fantastic! I used one pound lean ground beef and one pound italian sausage for more flavor. Only use one can of tomato paste. Instead of using the chicken and beef base, I mixed half can chicken broth and red wine. I cooked the ground beef and sausage with the garlic, added it to the slow cooker pot. Made the tomato sauce, added to the slow cooker pot and refrigerated over night. In the morning I stirred in one cup water, put in on low in the slow cooker, and it was AMAZING by the time I got home from work!
    This sauce is easy, tasty and is made from everything I have in my fridge already. I added sliced mushrooms and diced green peppers because I like these in my meatsauce. It freezes well, and I will have great lunches for work. We did choose to leave out the paste and just use the puree and the crushed tomatoes.
    This is my first review of a recipe and I have been trying the Food Network's recipes for many years now. It is wonderful! So much better than jar spaghetti sauce.
    I was also surprised at how many cans of paste until I read the whole recipe, and thinned it out with chicken stock instead of base + water. And let me tell you, I didn't think this sauce was going to be as good as it was. It took me back to my NYC days, slurping spaghetti in Little Italy. Simple but delish!
    This sauce was horrible. 2 cans of tomato paste? I had to use about 4 cups of water just to thin it out.......
    Thought it was great and am getting ready to do it again! I made a few changes, used 1 can of paste instead of 2, added 1/2 cup of red wine (Merlot, and the rind of a wedge of Parmesan. I also used a equal amount of beef broth instead of the 2 kinds of base plus water. I used a portion of ground beef, ground turkey italian sausage, and ground pork. I cooked every thing on the stove (minus the cheese wedge and then used my had blender in the pot and pureed the sauce with the meat. I than stuck it in the crock pot for the next 6 hours or so(with the rind and UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM......SO GOOD! Oh, I also added a tsp of red pepper for a tiny kick. Ok, I changed a lot but it was based on things I liked in other meat sauce recipes that I have tried. This is my favorite and as close to my favorite Italian spot....Guiseppes. Love it Love it Love it!
    Best meat sauce made at home!! I am SUPER picky about my meat sauce/spaghetti sauce. Ever since I was 4 years old I have eaten spaghetti with meat sauce at a local resturant called Vince's Spaghetti. Everytime someone made homemade spaghetti sauce or jar sauce it tasted so gross, sweet, and tangy...blah. I was determined to try to find a similar recipe that was as similar to Vince's. Though it's not exactly the same it taste sooo good. I use this sauce for spaghetti and for lasagna. I use a tad less salt if I'm using it for lasagna because the cheese is already salty. Sometimes I add a little more salt if the sauce is for spaghetti, I taste it about half way through and adjust from there. I love this recipe, thank you so much for sharing it!!!!!!!
    Yum! This sauce was very easy to make. I froze half of it for 2 weeks--even more tasty the second time around!
    Been privileged to have been going there for about 20 years now. Absolutely fabulous!!
    This is by far the best meat sauce recipe I have ever tried. Being Italian and my mother growing up on Dego Hill in St. Louis. I am sure you can just imagine her saying "No better sauce anywhere than my grandmothers". She was wrong. It is a huge hit with my family. I use it on every pasta dish that calls for red sauce. I have actually passed it on to a few bar owners that I know and the results and reactions were the same. A big shout out to the owner's of Donatelli's for sharing this recipe.
    It made my house smell great and my stomach even happier
    Followed this recipe to a T, but didn't care for it at all. At best, it tasted like cheap Ragu jarred sauce. I feel there is far too much tomato paste for the amount of sauce. Also, why fresh garlic AND garlic salt? I'd prefer all fresh garlic and salt.
    The Donatelli's - Meat Sauce is a rich and delicious basic sauce that can be used to complement a variety of Italian dishes. This easy recipe serves as a great base for complex pasta concoctions or may be used as a stand-alone favorite. My family enjoys a simple ?sauce-less? pizza treat that this restaurant serves, called Italian fries. The sauce is served on the side for dunking the cheesy pizza strip "fries." If you are ever in Minnesota, a trip to this restaurant is well worth the effort.
    Null has said that those of us who gave this recipe five stars are not good cooks to begin with. The owner of the restaurant might have something to say about that. I would bet that Null did not even try the recipe.
    I made this recipe today for dinner. And I am sad to report I have thrown away my "old go to" recipe. This sauce was very tasty. The only thing I changed was I added Italian Sausage. I used 5 links cut up 3 and left 2 whole. That way this week for lunch I can have Italian sausage sandwiches with red sauce for lunch. Thank you Donatelli's for sharing.
    Our family has really gotten into "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" so I searched some of those recipes and chose this one for dinner last night. My husband prefers meat in his sauce but I do not so I was a little skeptical but this was fantastic! I made it exactly per the recipe: it was slightly thick so you could add a little extra water (or wine) OR hold back some on the amount of meat; adjust to your liking. There is not much onion but we have a 7-year old who is not a huge fan so that was OK; note that the onion flavor was slightly present and was not overpowering so we liked it with just the 1/4 cup. This recipe was very easy and will be part of our menu as the weather starts cooling. My advice: try the recipe "as is" then start tweaking it the next time you make it.
    I made this last night followed the recipe exact except i didn't use groung beef i used italian sausage and not what it called for i had more sauce then meat which is what i wanted and put it on ravioli added just a tad of sugar to sweeten it and it was awesome my whole family USED to like my sauce but now they would rather have this i will be making this sauce from now on. PS: i found if you have any extra sauce thats not used you can pour it in a freezer ziploc bag it does freeze very well
    I am from Southern Cali and once a year I visit White Bear Lake, MN and once a year I go to Donatelli's. I am never disppointed and look forward to the visit each and every time. I highly recommend the restaurant and the sauce is AMAZING!!! Good times...
    I just made this and it turned out really great!!!
    I made mine with just a few modifications:
    1. I used half ground pork and half ground beef
    2. I used bacon fat instead of vegetable oil
    3. I added 1 tspn oregeno
    4. I added 1/2 cup of merlot
    5. I used fresh basil instead of dried basil
    Very good recipe, I'll be adding this to my list of favorites
    I will be making this meat sauce for the second time tonite. I was able to make three dinners from this one recipe. Meat Sauce and Spaghetti; Meat & Veggie Pizza, and Meat Sauce chili. This is great for today's economy. Only addition was 1 cup of Merlot. Wonderful!!
    This is the easiest - fastest - and most delish recipe for meat sauce. I would try it again with turkey as well. Will make this again!
    have used this recipe several times and like to have some in the freezer at all times! very easy to make and terrific results. my whole family loves it including my sicilian mother-in-law.
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