Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sauce that Took My whole life to make

Growing up in an Italian family there are certain absolutes in life and one is that you will have family dinner on Sunday’s growing up.  When we were little we would all congregate at my grand parents house for pasta and sauce and a wild array of other things my Nonna would whip up.  I can still remember waking up to the smell the garlic and onion frying on the stove at their house if we slept over because my parents went out Saturday night.  Sunday morning breakfast would be a little coffee about a table spoon and ½ and ½ with sugar some toast and a bowl of sauce to dunk your toast in.    My kids would look at me like I was on drugs if I offered them this in the morning.  But we all loved it when we were little. 

The dinners were elaborate and delicious and nothing like anything a restaurant could ever imitate.  Often imitated but never duplicated.  The sauce that Nonna made was so good that to this day I have never found a sauce in a restaurant that could touch it.  I really don’t even bother getting pasta and meatballs at a restaurant because they are always a disappointment.

This week it has been 1 year since my Nonna passed away and the craving for her sauce was crazy.  I had started bugging her a couple years ago to show me how to make her sauce, so that I would know and be able to have it at family things.

For real Italians there are no cookbooks or measurements it’s all “eyeballed”, and measured, and taste testing.   Main rule was to always go with less because you can always add ingredients you can’t take any away once they are in the pot.

So after several visits with Nonna I wrote down everything that goes in the sauce, and watched how she did everything pretty effortlessly.  (She was over 90 and sharp as a tack).

Fry onion and garlic in olive oil – DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC
Can Crushed tomatoes
Can Tomato Sauce
Small Can Whole Tomatoes
Tiny can of Tomato Past
Dash of Sugar
Salt and Pepper
Italian Seasoning  about a palm full(in a package at the market) 
Cream – just a little, about what you would put in a cup of coffee
Peccorino Romano cheese (about a handful)
1 Bay Leaf
Chili Flakes ¼ teaspoon
Cooked Roast/Pork or Beef or Meatballs and Italian Sausage
Stir and simmer on the stove for a few hours.
Taste it frequently and add what you need to.

The recipe for the meatballs, now I really gotta like you to give you that secret.  But I think everyone deserves a good sauce recipe, not Ragu.  And do not fool yourself, there is no jar sauce that will ever amount to a good home cooked batch.

So this week I was able to put together a pot of sauce and I will say it came out almost as good as Nonna’s sauce.  I always did love the Sunday dinner and I love the smell of the house with a pot of sauce simmering on the stove all day.  It just reminds me of good times, and laughter, and carelessly playing as children. 

As I came home today with my kids and the sauce has been on the stove simmering for a couple hours, my house smells AMAZING.  It reminded me that there is something about Sunday’s that I will always love and I think it will always be the food, which is I why I need to run.  Make the sauce and run while it’s simmering.  I’m serving my sauce over spaghetti squash,  SOOOO GOOOD.

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