I do a lot of cooking for our house, but the one thing I don’t do with any frequency: make sauce. Sure I do quick tomato sauces (what people call marinara or arrabbiata sauces), but those long-boiling, Sunday-dinner, one huge pot of gold sauce (sugo) – that’s really my mom’s and my husband’s domains. They do it well, really well, so I don’t bother to challenge them on it.
And I have to say, there’s nothing like walking into a house where tomato sauce has been bubbling away all day. The warmth and the pure, sweet smell generates hunger pangs right away. I once had a doctor suggest I was allergic to tomatoes and that I should cut them out of my diet to be sure – I couldn’t fathom it and I still haven’t tried it. For Italians, tomato sauce is the ultimate comfort food and it’s no wonder that I get requests for tomato sauce recipes from readers and friends.
Everyone has their own take on tomato sauce and no one way is correct – they are all perfect in their own way. Each has a special touch from the sauce maker. This recipe was originally called “Sal’s Nonno’s Sauce.” That is, it comes from my husband’s grandfather. But truth be told, it’s actually a mixture of his grandparent’s recipes (from both sides) that make up this awesome sauce. True to form, it really is Sal’s own recipe now that he’s perfected it. And it always gets rave reviews. The shredded meat makes this sauce perfect for huge pasta shapes like rigatoni or a lasgana or pasta al forno.
Many thanks to my husband for pausing long enough for me to take photos and our good friend who spent the day with us making sauce, reminding me to take photos and write this recipe down finally.
500g (1 pound) total of three types of meat. (Either a mixture of pork, veal, and goat OR three different cuts of the same type of meat)
Salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cloves chopped garlic
2.8kg (100 ounces) of peeled tomatoes
6 cups room temperature water
Fresh basil and parsley
Prepare your meat by patting it dry and sprinkling it with salt and pepper. Put a very large stainless steel pot with a heavy bottom on to your stove to warm up on medium-high and coat the bottom of the pan with the olive oil. Depending on the size of your pot, it could be more than three tablespoons. When the oil is hot, place the meat in the pot and sear it until it is brown on both sides. Be sure not to crowd the meat, so every piece is touching the bottom of the pan. It is seared sufficiently when it releases itself from the bottom of the pan easily. You may have to do it in two rounds. Remove the meat from the pot when it is seared.
Once all the meat is removed, add in your onion and garlic, stirring frequently until the onion is softened. Deglaze the pot with the red wine, using a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pot. When the alcohol has boiled off, put aside.
To prepare your peeled tomatoes, either home jarred or canned, add them to a blender, a bit at a time to break down the tomatoes. Once pulsed, pass the blended tomatoes through a sieve to remove any seeds.
Add the meat and the tomatoes to the pot.
Add in your water and any herbs you prefer, like basil and parsley. Raise up the heat on your stove and bring it to a rolling boil.
Once at a full boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer for four to five hours, until reduced to almost half. Your sauce is ready to go.
Now you could leave the meat in the sauce whole and serve it along side your pasta. But the secret to this sauce is removing the meat once more from the sauce and removing it from any bones. Shred the meat by hand, removing any fat or unwanted bits. Put the meat back in the sauce and use immediate. Or cool and use the next day. Or you can freeze it. Or forgo preparing anything else like pasta and just dip some bread in there and enjoy!