My family always called a meat pasta sauce, "Gravy", not sure why but it was always a major treat at my Grandmother's house. As I got older I would help Nona, my grandmother, make her gravy and when I got older I played around with my own recipes. So here is my recipe:
4 Small onions, or 1 large onion
1-2 lbs of carrots (if you are poor use some more carrots for a filler) (this also helps sweeten the sauce without having to add sugar
3 celery stalks
4 portabella Mushroom caps, dried mushrooms, white mushrooms or anything you have
1/2 bunch Parsley
2 tablespoons chopped Garlic
1 large can of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs ground beef (whatever fat content you prefer)
1 lb Italian sausage (see my sausage recipe for cheap sausage)
Dried Italian Seasoning
Wine (any kind, I've used everything from zinfandel, Chianti, to plum wine)
Water (Beef Broth is better but more expensive)
3 small cans tomato Paste or 1 large can
Ok, this is an easy sauce with a lot of ingredients, but how I handle the ingredients is straightforward and uneventful. Clean your vegetables cut them into large pieces put them in a blender or food processor and puree all of them. Put them in a heavy pot with 4 Tablespoons of olive oil and let them cook up for about 10 minutes. Put in your Meat all at the same time, stir it up with the vegetables and let that cook for about 20 minutes. Next, add about 1 cup of wine and 2 cups of broth or water and your tomato paste. Throw in about 1 tablespoon of salt, several shakes of pepper, about 2 tsp's of dried basil and 2 tsp's of italian seasoning stir it all up and let it cook for about 2 hours on low with a lid on, mixing it up well about every 30 minutes.
At this point you need to check your salt, pepper and Garlic and add accordingly. If your sauce starts to get too thick add more liquid, water if you prefer, beef stock if you have extra disposable income, wine if you like that heavy wine flavor. By the way, if you are opposed to cooking with wine substitute some balsamic vinegar and you will get about the same taste. You may need to add a little less. Every time you add salt or pepper let it cook for about 30 minutes and check it again.
I like to let mine sit overnight on low and simmer down. At this stage you can boil some pasta and spoon some gravy over it and enjoy a wonderful meal. Likely you will have enough for several meals about 3 or 4 depending on how many children you have. This sauce costs me about $22-$25 dollars and will feed my family of 5, 4 times. So that works out to about $2 per person per meal including spaghetti pasta. Plus, it tastes really fantastic.