mom’s get it done meat sauce

mom's get it done meat sauce

My mom’s get it done meat sauce is the perfect pantry meal for busy weeknights. Made with ground beef, spices, and my mom’s imagination it boasts Italian-ish flavors with the utility of Cuban picadillo. This is the perfect dinner for nights when you are too tired, stressed, or broke to make anything fancy.

mom's get it done meat sauce

My mom is my hero. She’s lived an incredible life filled with trials, triumphs and blessings. She is one of the most ambitious, hard working people I know. From fleeing religious persecution in Iran, to receiving her AA degree in her 40’s with three kids and a full time job, maman can overcome any obstacle and she’s stronger for it.

When I was in middle school things were financially difficult for us. My dad was running a mechanic shop with unscrupulous business partners and my mom worked full time while she attended community college to receive her AA degree. No matter how tired maman was, we always had a hot meal waiting for us after school.

mom's get it done meat sauce

Maman would come home, bone tired, and forage the freezer and pantry for something to put together. One of her favorite responses when asked what’s for dinner was, “bokhor oh naporse”. Translated from Farsi this means, “eat and don’t ask”. It’s just another way of saying “I’m throwing together whatever I can get my hands on so don’t be picky.” Regardless of how sparse our pantries were, mom was always able to whip up delicious meals between grocery hauls.

This all purpose, get it done meat sauce was one of her specialities and one of my favorites. She always seemed to have the ingredients on hand; ground beef waiting in the freezer, dried herbs, and canned tomatoes in the cupboard. She’d serve our favorite sauce over pasta, rice, or vegetables.

The steps in this recipe were perfect for maman because she could prep everything on the fly. She would chop the onion while the beef defrosted, skillfully dicing the onion in mid air right over the pot. My mom’s cooking philosophy hardly ever includes a cutting board or mise en place. Maman minced the garlic while the beef and onions browned, working as efficiently as possible. She would improvise the flavors of the dish based on the dried herbs and spices she had on hand. My mom’s love for her family and her innate understanding of food and flavors always trumped classical haute cuisine dogma. No matter how many culinary faux pas she committed, she always turned out the most delicious food. Watching my mom cook is still one of my greatest joys in life and I’m so pleased every time I recreate one of her dishes in my own kitchen.

Mom’s get it done meat sauce is a utilitarian dish that’s nourishing and delicious. It’s the perfect meal to tuck into after a long day. Serve it over pasta, rice, or roasted vegetables. The only limit is your imagination.

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mom's get it done meat sauce

mom’s get it done meat sauce

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large yellow onion (a softball sized onion), diced 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 pounds 85% lean ground beef 
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced 
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes (such as San Marzano)
  • 2 dried bay leaves 


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, shallow dutch oven over medium heat. 
  2. Add the diced onion and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook and stir the onions until they are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the ground beef to the pan, increase the heat to high and cook while you break the meat up using a wooden spoon. 
  4. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the moisture has evaporated, 5 minutes. 
  5. Reduce the heat back down to medium, add the garlic, oregano, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to the meat. Cook until fragrant, 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring to combine the paste with the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes. 
  7. Add the can of plum tomatoes and fill the empty tomato can halfway with water, swirling the water around to release any tomato juice stuck to the can. Add that water to the meat and bring to a simmer. 
  8. Use a wooden spoon to break the tomatoes down into small pieces. 
  9. Reduce the heat to low, add the bay leaves to the meat and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the sauce has thickened, 30-45 minutes. 
  10. Taste the sauce and adjust salt as necessary. 
  11. Serve over cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, brown rice, or anything else you can think of!
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  1. This is wonderful! Great recipe. I made it just as described. Great leftovers of course too.

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