When I was a kid, I can remember walking in the front door after a stressful day at school (the Sr. Colette monkey incident comes to mind…)
feeling horrible and cranky and then all of a sudden, my nose would be greeted with the best smell in the whole world! The gently mingled scents of onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices
that have simmered over a pot all day long. Mom was making sauce! Nothing smelled (or smells) better to me than the smell of homemade pasta sauce! There is a certain joy in
making a giant pot of sauce, because you know that you are going to have a freezer full of easy future dinners! It is funny how all the best sauces I have had all have a character of their own!
My Mom’s, my buddy Frank’s, my brother Bill’s… all very different, but all insanely good! This recipe is mine. I think it is insanely good,and my kids love it, each and every one of them!
For future reference, I grow in my garden a huge patch of Italian parsley and sweet basil. I harvest it in the fall, clean it and chop it in my food processor. I pop it on baking sheets and freeze them overnight.
In the morning I transfer it to plastic bags and use it all winter long. It is amazing how the scent reminds you of summer in the dead of January! My sauce also improves monumentally when my brother Rick
gives me some of his homemade Lucanega sausage and Guancale! It brings the sauce to a level beyond imagining! If you don’t have a brother who makes his own sausage, substitute pancetta and a mix
of 1/2 hot Italian and 1/2 sweet Italian sausage. It takes a little time but it will be an awesome sauce and you will enjoy it for quite a few dinners. You won’t be sorry and your house will smell amazing!
You may even perk up someone who could use a little home cooking lift!
1 giant can of whole plum tomatoes (I get them from costco (or six 28 oz. cans)
3-4 large onions, chopped
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup of water
10 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced (use the real deal. It makes a difference.)
4 bay leaves
1 cup minced flat leaf parsley and basil (I use my freezer stash)
3-5 T olive oil
2 T dried basil
1 T hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. chopped finely Guancale or pancetta
1 1/2 each hot and sweet Italian sausage (baked in a 350 deg oven for 30 minutes.. discard the grease… I even wipe the sausage and meatballs down with a paper towel to get off excess grease.)
1 recipe of Margie’s meatballs (follows below) baked in a 350 deg. oven for 20 minutes.
First, prep the tomatoes. My kids don’t like a chunky sauce, so I usually grind them in the blender or food processor in batches. If you like a chunkier sauce, leave a few tomatoes intact and then crush them with a spoon right in the pot. Heat the 1 T of the olive oil in large pot on medium heat, add the pancetta or guancale and cook until it is crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon leaving the drippings in the pot. (If there are too many drippings, drain them away, you should just have a coating on the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the olive oil and heat, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes or until soft. Reduce heat to low, add the hot pepper flakes and the garlic, saute briefly. Add the sauce and stir well. Add the water and the tomato paste and stir until combined. Add the bay leaves and the dry basil, 2 T kosher salt and 1 T black pepper, stir and simmer on low for 1/2 hour. Keep stirring every now and then so sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pot. (I like to keep a lid on the sauce the entire time, slightly skewed so it will thicken as it cooks.) Preheat the oven to 350 deg. and lay your sausage out on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake them for 30 minutes.
While the sausage are baking make your meatballs. Put the sausage in the pot. Keep simmering for another hour. Let the sauce come to the level of thickness you like. If you want it thicker, keep cooking and stirring. When you are almost there, bake those meatballs up. Pop them in the sauce after you blot them with a paper towel. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve the sauce over hot pasta with parmesan or romano cheese on the side! Oh, so good!
Freeze what you don’t use into 1 gallon freezer bags or storage containers. I like to count out the meat first (1/2 sausage and 1 meatball per person, 2x that for the college boy) and then add the sauce to the bag.
Thaw in fridge before you use it, microwave or reheat on the stove, boil up some pasta and dinner is DONE! Booyah!
Really good meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 c. grated romano cheese
Reserved fried pancetta or guancale
1 c. Italian bread crumbs
3 T. ketchup
1/4 c flat Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl until mixed, you should be able to form balls, if not add more bread crumbs if too wet or 1 T milk if dry. Form the mixture into meatballs and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. (I just use the one the sausage was on) Bake for 20 minutes.