Add olive oil to a non-reactive pot or Dutch oven (see recipe note) and place over MEDIUM heat. Add ground beef, onion and garlic and cook, stirring to break up the beef until crumbly and browned with no pink remaining. Drain off excess grease, if necessary. Stir tomato paste into the mixture and cook for a minute or two and then add basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, fennel seed and crushed red pepper (if using). Cook, stirring, until well combined. Add whole tomatoes and all liquid from the can, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Add beef broth and sugar and stir to combine. Use the spoon to mash the tomato down to desired consistency.
Increase heat to MEDIUM-HIGH and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to LOW and allow to simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes while you cook your pasta or for up to 2 hours to deepen the flavors.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, only if needed. If the sauce is too acidic for your taste, add optional butter and allow to melt into the sauce. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving for sauce to mellow. If you’ve used San Marzano tomatoes, it is unlikely you’ll feel the need to add the butter but it is an excellent way to balance the flavors even further if you’d like.
Serve over cooked pasta or your choice and top with Parmesan cheese.
Source : allrecipes.com
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