posts may contain Amazon affiliate links, which earn me a small commission when you buy (but doesn't cost you anything extra). Occasionally I receive free products and/or run sponsored posts—this will always be stated clearly in the post. Thank you for supporting this blog.

This website contains some quotations, excerpts, and screen clips from copyrighted material. These uses fall well within the copyright doctrine of "Fair Use".
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Spaghetti di LaRusso | The Karate Kid

Spaghetti di LaRusso | The Karate Kid
Spaghetti di LaRusso (Homemade Meat Sauce) inspired by The Karate Kid
Well, hello 2018. Here I am sidling up to you, and almost a whole month has already gone by. And just because I can, now that I've officially welcomed you, I'm gonna go ahead and slip back into the past—34 years in the past to be exact, because it's time for another round of recipes inspired by 80's movies from me and Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles.

This month, I chose a movie that is near and dear to my heart, The Karate Kid. I'm pretty sure that Ralph Macchio was my first crush (yes, I know I'm totally dating myself)...either him or Ricky Schroder or Sean Astin. I thought they were so dreamy as a wee elementary school girl. Back then, we didn't get to see movies in the theater as often as we do these days, so the fact that I got to see The Karate Kid TWICE in theaters made me feel pretty cool.

I'm sure you've seen it, but let me refresh your memory on the basics. Daniel LaRusso and his mother pack up their station wagon and move from Newark, New Jersey to the Los Angeles, California neighborhood of Reseda, supposedly because his mom has gotten a job with a computer startup...even though she winds up working in a restaurant and training to be a manager because the pay is better.
Spaghetti di LaRusso | The Karate Kid
Daniel falls for Ali, a cute blond from the country club side of the tracks, which makes her ex-boyfriend Johnny jealous. Johnny happens to be a member of the Cobra Kai Karate Dojo, and him and his Cobra Kai buddies get the better of Daniel (who only know karate from a book and a couple of classes at the Y) several times, before Mr. Miyagi, the Okinawan handyman steps in and rescues him.

A deal is struck between Mr. Miyagi and Kreese (the Cobra Kai's sensei), keeping Daniel safe from their wrath until they meet in an upcoming tournament, giving him time to train with Mr. Miyagi (who no longer seems to need to tend to his handyman duties). Oh, and time to woo Ali. Cue inspirational music and activities forever ingrained in the minds of 80's kids like "wax on, wax off", "sand the floor", and "paint the fence"...and you've got yourself a classic.
Spaghetti di LaRusso | The Karate Kid
But what we're really here to talk about today is what kind of food/recipe goes well with The Karate Kid? Well, after watching it last week for the bajillionth time...but the first time with an eye towards the food...I realized there's all sorts of inspiration hanging around. From dates (palm trees), hot dogs and marshmallows roasted over a fire on the breakfast foods like scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and orange juice (with a side of black eye) and indecipherable school lunch food (save milk and pie) fish, sake or whiskey, grapes (all associated with Mr. Miyagi) the plate of steak, fries, and broccoli that Daniel eats at his mom's restaurant (oddly, since it's called The Orient Express Restaurant).

There's also the foods that I think are probably most typically associated with the film, like birthday cake, eggs (cracked over Daniel's head at the Halloween dance by the chicken), and of course, spaghetti.

I had to choose the spaghetti. I mean, poor Daniel. It's such an uncomfortable moment—and such an unfortunate choice of wardrobe (on so many levels). I do recommend eating this spaghetti instead of wearing it, because it's rich, savory, and complex even. I also wanted to add a nod to the opening scene of the film to the recipe. As Daniel and his mom are driving away from their Newark apartment, if you listen to their goodbye's, you'll hear Mrs. LaRusso telling somebody not to forget to "tell Uncle Louie that I left the red wine and Parmesan in the fridge".

So, along with red wine and a Parmesan rind, I used ground beef and sweet Italian sausage (my favorite), plus onion, garlic, and plenty of herbs. You'll need to start it early in the day since it takes a couple of hours to simmer and develop its richness, but it's totally worth it. And hey, if you want to make it the day before...or even a couple of days need it, even better.

Don't forget to drop by and visit Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles, she made Baked Beans inspired by Young Guns (another 80's movie I loved)!

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out my License to Drive inspired Sardine & Pickle Sandwiches, or my Exquisite Gourmet Rocks inspired by The Neverending Story!

Yield: 7 to 8 cups
Spaghetti di LaRusso (Homemade Meat Sauce) | The Karate Kid

Homemade Meat Sauce

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 2 hour and 20 MINStotal time: 2 hours and 30 mins
An irresistible savory, slow-cooked meat sauce featuring sweet Italian sausage, ground beef, and the red wine and Parmesan that the LaRusso's left in their Newark fridge. You could wear it like Daniel, but I'd much rather eat it.


  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet Italian sausage (squeezed from casings if not bulk)
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed (see notes)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 Parmesan rind, optional
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Cook and crumble sausage and beef in a 4-quart pot until browned, 8-10 minutes. Add onion, garlic, fennel, crushed chile flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper; cook for 5 minutes longer, until soft and fragrant. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to darken and smell sweet, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Carefully pour in the red wine and let it bubble until almost evaporated, while scraping the bottom of the pot to release the good stuff stuck to the bottom (called fond), 1-2 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper, to the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Partially cover the pot and allow sauce to simmer very gently, stirring every now and again, for 2 hours. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Lift out bay leaves (and Parmesan rind if it hasn't dissolved) before serving, if desired.
  5. Toss with al dente noodles that have just been drained (or use in lasagna or any other dish that calls for meat sauce).
  1. If you have one, use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the fennel seeds. If you don't have one, just set them on a cutting board and use the bottom of a heavy pot to lightly crush them.
  2. If you don't have a Parmesan rind, you can grate 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese into the sauce at the end, if desired.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Would you like to comment?