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Monday: Ask Marsha: Making Italian Sauce

Vince’s Dad was the sauce maker in the family.  Every Sunday he made sauce.  We would go to visit, and Dad would always send us plenty of sauce home with us, frozen and packaged in perfect serving sizes.  Every time we came, he would say, “I got a special buy on tomato sauce.  You have to use X Brand of tomato sauce.  That’s what makes it so good.”  So here is Vince’s and my version of Dad’s recipe.

Vince's sauce

I know you are getting tired of this picture, but it is my only one. It always looks the same. I always use this pan, and this spoon. The meatballs are always this size.

Tomato Sauce

  • 4 cans of tomato sauce – Costco brand (he he – it doesn’t matter)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 5 cans of water – 1 for each can of tomato anything
  • 1-2 fresh basil leaves from the garden
  • 1 bay leaf from the Costco jar I’ve had for at least 10 years – maybe more

Start it cooking, it has to cook for hours.  If you put less water, you can’t cook all that water out of it.  So be sure to put the water in so you have to start making the sauce at least 3-4 hours before you want to eat it.

Meat balls

  • 1 pound of hamburger (I don’t worry about lean or not lean, but I don’t put the grease in the sauce.)
  • 1 c Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper ( I just do about a teaspoon)
  • 1 tsp mint (secret ingredient – DON’T TELL ANYONE ELSE!)
  • 1 tsp oregano (Dad didn’t use this, but I do sometimes.)
  • 1 tsp basil

Smoosh them all together, roll them into balls, and you get just enough meatballs to cover a medium size pan.  Fry them over a low heat until they are lightly brown on all surfaces.  You can’t go off and blog for a bit while they are cooking or your husband will come in and hover over them like they are going to hatch.  He might anyway because they do smell delicious.

Spoon them into the sauce trying not to splash tomato sauce all over your clean white blouse.  The meatballs need to cook through and through.

Other Meat

  • 1 large package of hot Italian sausage ( I used to use mild, and nobody objected.)
  • Country Style Spare Ribs (I never used these, but Vince did, and he likes it better.)

Cut the sausage.  Dad used to cut the sausage into small chunks because he thought that made the flavor come out better.  Vince cuts them into two chunks.  I’d leave them out if it was up to me.  In the meatball pan brown the sausage until it is light brown on every surface then spoon them into the sauce.  They need to cook for hours as well.

spare ribs

Next, cut the spare ribs into chunks and brown them leaving the fat on them.  When they are light brown, then put them in the sauce as well.  Discard the grease unless you want heart troubles.  If you are taking your medicines, then go ahead and pour the grease into the sauce.  I don’t.

The rest is up to father time.  The meatballs start screaming at Vince after about two hours.  “Get us out of here!  It’s hot!  I’ve been in this tomato bath long enough!”  He caves every time, and stands bent over the pot with a meatball on a fork and tomato sauce dripping into his cupped hand – like no one is going to find him if he doesn’t move away from the stove!  After he has eaten a couple, we cook them for another hour or two so he can replenish his appetite, and then we start the pasta.

mostaccoli

Vince’s sister knows exactly how much pasta each person will eat, and sets the timer to the precise number of minutes.  I just throw in about a half a box of pasta.  Then, as if she doesn’t trust the timer, asks Vince to try the pasta to see if it is al dente.  It always is.  We both have left overs, so I don’t think it matters.  The good news is that, to the true Italians in the family, they all THINK the pasta is better the next day.  (Lucky for me – I made too much!)

Once the pasta is al dente you pour off the water, and ladle in two large spoons full of sauce and stir the pasta, which has to be Mostaccioli (I like Angel Hair pasta.)  After that, you serve each person the set amount of pasta, and ask how many meatballs and other kinds of chunks they want.  Cindy and I always have two meatballs.  Vince has two to start with some sausage and other chunks.  Spoon more sauce over the top.  Completely cover the entire mixture with parmesan cheese, grated, not Kraft.  Costco brand is ok.  Serve with green salad or three bean salad and garlic bread.  Be sure to pinch off all the little slimy skins on the garbanzo beans when they come out of the can before you add them to the salad. Plan to sleep for an hour after you finish eating the chocolate cake or homemade cookies and ice cream for dessert.

pasta dinner

Oops we used the curly pasta. Vince likes that kind, too. I like the appetizers. Want to know how to make them?

Sorry for the blurry pictures. Usually I’m in much too much of a hurry to eat to bother with pictures.  I guess my hands were shaking!  🙂

Bread is less important.  We only had English muffins this Sunday.  Add butter and garlic and anything works!  🙂

So that’s it.  You know all my secrets.  You know all Dad’s secrets.  You are now officially Italian, like I am.  🙂

What do you want to talk about next week?

35 replies »

  1. Well, I had to go and ask my best friend, Mr Google, what our Australian equivalent of your tomato sauce would be. Seems it’s what we call passata. Here, tomato sauce is what you call ketchup. Can’t you just see me throwing in 4 cans of ketchup and wondering why you think this sauce is good!

    Like

  2. Sounds delish & simple enough.
    Not sure I wanna’ risk going up in flames again though. The kitchen & I do NOT get along.

    Like

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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