Sweet Sausage Spaghetti Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings discarded
2 medium onions, diced (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced
2/3 cup dry red wine
3 cups strained or pureed tomatoes
2 teaspoons mixed dried Italian herbs (any one or a combination of oregano, basil, marjoram and/or crushed rosemary)
2 teaspoons sugar
Freshly ground pepper
LINE a large plate with several layers of paper towels. Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half of the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Cook, stirring every minute or so, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sausage loses its raw look and starts to brown. Transfer it to the paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining sausage.
POUR off and discard all but a film of fat from the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so and adjusting the heat so the vegetables soften but do not brown.
RETURN all of the sausage to the saucepan. Add the wine and stir to combine. Cook 2 minutes, then add the strained tomatoes. Use 1 cup water to rinse off any puree clinging to the inside of the box or can, then add it to the saucepan. Add the dried herbs and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low so it is barely bubbling at the edges. Partially cover with a lid and cook for 25 minutes, stirring a few times and adding a little water if it becomes too thick. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
SERVE immediately, or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
YIELD: 7 cups (14 servings).