Today is a cold and blustery Sunday in the Northeastern USA and we felt was the perfect day to make a batch of sauce. Depending on where you are in the world, you may know it by a different name. Gravy, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. In my neck of the woods, we call it "sauce" (and we don't ever call it gravy, for everyone knows gravy is something that you put on Thanksgiving Turkey or a white roux you put on biscuits...).
Making sauce on a Sunday is a tradition that harks back to my youth, where every Sunday, Italians all over the Lehigh Valley (and my family included) would gather at 10 a.m. for their dinner (lol) after Mass and eat pasta and sauce, usually with some kind of meat.
|spicy and sweet Italian sausage.|
So with that in mind, the Mrs. and I decided it was a good time to relive the tradition today on this wintery of Sundays.
Ours is a very standard way of preparing sauce but a delicious one. Start by browning your meat in the pan. Today we picked Italian sausage both sweet and spicy. (by the way, my favorite variation is made with pork neck bones and stew meat - which adds the most incredible flavor to the sauce).
I empty a little more than half of the grease and add some fresh olive oil to the pot. Once the olive oil is hot enough, we add 1 large onion chopped up beyond recognition, and 3 cloves of minced garlic. (please....too much garlic? My wife is Portuguese and I'm Italian. 3 cloves is barely enough).
|1 large onion and 3 cloves or garlic|
|a little more olive oil after the sausage is done cooking. (emptied half of the grease)|
|Leonor demonstrates the "forbidden art" of Portuguese rapid onion chopping.|
Saute the onion until it's translucent then add the garlic for a little while. Don't burn the garlic. Then add 2 cans of tomato paste. Let it sit there for a little while and flatten it out. (Your olive oil will turn a delightful orange that will your children will marvel over.)
|cooking the onion.|
|smushing or flattening your tomato paste.|
Once you've flattened and "smushed" the paste, add 2 x cans of crushed tomatoes. If you're feeling froggy, you can add your own fresh crushed tomatoes if that's your thing.
We then add the spices, salt, a little black pepper and red pepper. Spices are our own blend of seasoning, some of it home-grown and dried and some of it store bought. You'll need basil, parsley, a little oregano and thyme, and about a teaspoon of salt and 3 shakes of black pepper. (no more, no less).
Oh and here is an important step you might want to make about now...for every can of tomato paste you use, fill empty tomato paste can with water and dump it in. That stretches your sauce a little so it's not too thick.
Let it simmer for an hour or 2 or 3 depending on how hungry you are or how much time you have.
It's actually good enough to eat "ascuitta" now, or lightly coating the macaroni. This is how Italians eat it. Like real Italians. In Italy.
So after you simmer the sauce, you add my secret ingredient which gives you the most amazing flavor and totally explains why you only put 1 teaspoon of salt in (I knew you were wondering...). I add about 1 to almost 2 tablespoons of parmesan or romano (or both!) cheese to the sauce. This gives it an amazing flavor, extra body and thickening. You can technically use shaker cheese but obviously the fresh grated stuff is best.
|The weather outside is frightful, but my sauce is so delightful!|