The one thing I’ve tried many times to duplicate in my cooking endeavors is my Dad’s (and by connection, my late Grandma’s) sauce. I’ll have to try making it again one of these days.
However, recently I did find a sauce recipe from a collection that my Grandma had, entitled “La Cucinatura Italiana di Olean” from 1965. They’re the real deal, it has everything from salads to desserts (examples of last names of the submitters: Nicol, Barbaro, Sinicropi, Aiello).
The sauce is quick and easy to make, has a straight-forward meatball preparation and tastes pretty good. The downside is that it can only serve 6 to 8 people (basically one dinner), so you’ll have to scale up if you’re cooking for more or if you want to freeze the leftovers for future dinners.
To make your life easier, so you don’t have a huge mess to clean up, use a 12+ quart stock pot (I don’t own one of these yet). The high sides will keep the ensuing spatter contained within the pot. Which is a plus, since you then don’t have to baby the sauce.
Supposedly stirring with a wooden spoon instead of plastic or metal keeps the overall flavor of the sauce from changing (I read that somewhere about plastic and metal), but I’m still testing this.
For this recipe, I used a wooden spoon to stir the sauce. I also let it simmer for about 3 hours on Medium-Low with the meat before serving.
1/2 cup olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)
2 onions, chopped fine
2 large cans tomato puree (I used Dei Fratelli; Cento and Contadina are also good)
2 cans tomato paste (the 6 oz ones, I used Contadina)
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped fine (I used minced from a jar)
1 tbsp. minced parsley, dried
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil (fresh basil tastes better than dried)
Pork or beef (meatballs, see below) or neck bones or ribs
Salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat the oil in the stock pot and saute the onion until soft.
- Add tomato puree, paste, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
- 1/2 tsp each of Allspice and cinnamon can also be added at this point (BV: Allspice tasted good).
- Lower heat to Medium/Medium-Low and cook for 1 hr.
- Add meats to sauce and cook until tender.
- Serve on your favorite pasta.
1 lb. ground beef (let warm to room temperature for reasons below)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt or 1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk (I used 1/4 cup and it made the meatballs extremely moist, which isn’t to my taste. I would skip this entirely next time I make it, but that’s me.)
2 tbsp. minced parsley, dried
- In a large mixing bowl place all ingredients.
- (The fun part) Mix everything together very well with your hands.
- Roll into balls (a little bit bigger than golf balls are usually what I shoot for) and either fry in olive oil until brown (hard way) or bake in oven at 375*F on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, or until brown (easy way).
- Take meatballs and add to sauce.
- Cook in the sauce for 1 hr. or more.
- Makes around 18 large meatballs or 24 small ones
I guarantee you that once you taste this sauce, you’ll never go back to or taste jar sauce the same again.
Dad: “Thank you.” (I handed him something)
Beppo: “Prego.” (You’re welcome)
Dad: “Prego? I hate that sauce!”