On Cooking for the Freezer: Spaghetti Sauce and Chili

To have a good spaghetti sauce (or ragu) or chili, you don’t need a four-hour sauce, but, I will say that a lovely Ragu that has simmered on the stove all day, filled with bits of beef, and beef bones, and pork, and pork bones, and even a little pork skin ! has made the most delicious hearty meat sauce.  A few years ago my husband did a Cochon d’lait for my birthday.  The best part of the pig roast for me is not the  pork that we ate that day, but all the good stuff that I made from the “leftovers”: hogs’ head cheese, chili and ragu.  We saved the bones, meat, and extra skin in the freezer, and then one day I pulled it all out and split the leftovers between two pots: one became chili, and one became ragu.  Both had the veggies, one had fresh pork sausage, and the other had fresh italian sausage.  Both had a little ground beef, and some ground pork.  Both had tomato sauce, and from their the seasonings diverged.  Cumin for one, rosemary and a little bit of oregano for the other.  I found the last bag of ribs leftover from that cochon d’lait, and decided to put them to good use.


First, I started by making a pork stock with these bones.  There wasn’t much meat left on them, but the flavor was still there.  I let this simmer for about 2 hours prior to starting the sauces.

Making a pork stock

Making a pork stock

These two dishes start with nearly identical foundations.  It is the seasonings and spices that set them apart.  Since both take 2 to 3 hours, why not make them both at the same time?  Even if you make smaller quantities, you will still spend about the same amount of time toiling over the stove.

Here is my method.  First, prep the vegetables.  Both had equal amounts onion, celery, and garlic.  The chili had a little more red bell pepper.

The vegetables.

The vegetables.

Brown the meats.  I used 1 pound of ground beef and one pound of ground pork for each.  If you want more instant flavor, use italian sausage for the spaghetti sauce, and a fresh green onion sausage for the chili.  Breakfast sausage is not recommended; to much sage.

Browning the meats...

Browning the meats…

As the meats brown, either push them aside or remove to another dish so saute the vegetables.

Sauteeing the vegetables...

Sauteeing the vegetables…

Meat and veggies, ready to become ragu and chili

Meat and veggies, ready to become ragu and chili

I ladled in some of the pork stock, probably about 3 cups in each pot.  Split 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes between the two.  To the ragu I added a 14-ounce can tomatoes with italian seasonings, and to the chili added a 14-ounce can mild Rotel tomatoes.

Added italian seasonings to the ragu, and cumin and chili powder to the chili.

Ragu Spaghetti Sauce and Chili with Beans

Ragu Spaghetti Sauce and Chili with Beans

To the chili I also added one can of white beans, and one can of black beans.  Let simmer for a while.  Taste for salt and pepper.  I used about 1 tablespoon kosher salt for each, and about a teaspoon of pepper.

Let cool for an hour or two, label quart freezer bags, and fill.  Freeze flat.  Easy dinners in the freezer!

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