Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Tomato Sauce

There’s nothing like the smell of tomato sauce simmering on the stove to make a home feel a little more like, well, home. Even if you didn’t grow up in an Italian-American household like I did — where food equals love — chances are you adore the aroma of sautéed garlic and onions, savory herbs and plump, juicy tomatoes all the same. It's like old-fashioned aromatherapy, and cooking a large batch of sauce is a time-saver too. This recipe makes about 2½ quarts of sauce plus lots of meat. I usually freeze half of it and get two meals out of the rest!

2 – 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes (use good quality tomatoes - I like Cento brand)
2 - 28 oz. cans of tomato puree
1 c. water
2 large bay leaves
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
½ Tbsp. dried marjoram
2 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. sugar
1 c. olive oil
6 – 8 pork spare ribs
8 hot Italian sausages, sliced
Meatballs made from 1 lb. of ground beef (or beef/veal/pork mix, if you prefer)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
1 c. red wine

Pour the tomatoes, puree and water into a stockpot, add the next seven ingredients, stir to combine and place stockpot on the stove over low heat. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and lightly brown the spare ribs on all sides. Remove them to paper towels or a brown paper bag to drain, then do the same with the sausages and meatballs. You may have to brown the meatballs in a few batches. Add the meat to the tomato mix.

Pour off the oil and fat from the frying pan, leaving enough to sauté the onions and garlic on medium heat. Sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes till light golden (do not brown). Then, deglaze the pan for 4 to 5 minutes with the red wine till the wine is reduced by half. Add the garlic, onion and wine mixture to the stockpot and stir.

Simmer on low for a minimum of 4 hours, stirring frequently, till the meat on the pork ribs is very tender. Stir in the chopped parsley and let it sit uncovered off the heat for about 15 minutes, while you shred the meat from spareribs and place it back in the sauce, discarding the bones. Adjust the spices to taste and serve over a hearty pasta, such as rigatoni, spaghetti or orecchiette. 

Note: this recipe can be cooked in a crock pot. Reduce the water to ½ cup and cook on low for about 8 hours.

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