November 16, 2007

Grandma's Sauce

I married a real Italian man. His Grandparents came over "on the boat" from Italy. In fact, his Grandma's picture is on display at Ellis Island.

On a trip to New York, many years ago, I had the privilege of spending some time with his Grandma. She took me to the grocery store and taught me how to pick the best produce, the fine art of selecting a good Genoa salami, how shaking the cans of tuna could reveal which ones were packed with fish and which were heavy on the water side, and how "the freshest" items are always hidden at the back of the freezer. I could go on.

Of all the things she taught me, I am most thankful for the time we spent in the kitchen. We spent many hours together, cooking the food that she grew up eating in Sicily. It is a memory that I will never forget.

Grandma's sauce is simple, delicious and versatile. Layered with pasta and cheese, it makes a wonderful lasagna. Wit a touch of cream it suddenly becomes a delightful Rosa sauce. It even doubles as a tasty pizza sauce. It is equally good on its own and our refrigerator is rarely without a generous supply.

Although many people think good tomato sauce can only be made with fresh tomatoes, Grandma didn't think that was necessary. She believed that buying a good quality can of crushed tomatoes made the whole process easier. As far as the meat goes, she always used either Italian sausage (in the casing), pork chops, chicken thighs or meatballs (which are another story). She liked the flavor that these meats gave to the sauce. I happen to prefer Italian sausage.

Grandma's Sauce

olive oil
Meat of your choice (see paragraph above)
salt & pepper
6-8 whole cloves of garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
2-3 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs. parsley
salt to taste

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.
Coat the bottom with olive oil.

Season the meat with salt & pepper and place in the pot. Allow the meat to brown on all sides. About halfway through the browning process, add the garlic. Be careful not to let the garlic burn or it will make your sauce bitter.

Add the crushed tomatoes, the parsley and some additional salt. Reduce the heat, and allow the sauce to simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally. You can add more salt if necessary.

Before serving, fish out the garlic cloves and discard them. You can also remove the meat (other than meatballs) and serve it along side the sauce if you wish.

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