Red Sauce

This is our family’s Sunday Sauce, Red Sauce, or just Sauce (if you are in the know). All of the women in my family do it slightly differently, but the basic ingredients and method are pretty much the same. Tomato sauce, tomato paste, seasonings, pork meat, onion and garlic. This sauce is a project (take several hours) so I usually make a large batch and freeze it into 5-6 meal sized portions.

  • 5 small cans tomato paste (I prefer Hunt’s)
  • 9 small cans tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 6 cups water (pour water from one can to the next to make sure you get all of the sauce and paste out of the cans)
  • Salt, pepper, dry parsley, oregano, basil, 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package Italian sausages (can be sweet or hot)
  • 2 lbs pork meat (boneless country spare ribs, also called cushion meat)
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (enough to fully cover the bottom of the sauce pot)
  • Optional: 1 batch of meatballs

Put oil in the bottom of a large sauce pot, in the oil slowly and carefully (as to not burn or darken anything too much) brown all of the sausage, pork meat (cut into 2 inch chunks and seasoned with salt and pepper), the whole onion (carefully cut off the root and tip ends, peel the outer layer, but keep intact), the garlic (peel and cut into 2-3 pieces each). As each element has been browned, remove from the pot and set aside. The meat will not be fully cooked at this point, but you should build up a nice fond. Turn off the heat. You can slice the sausages into 3 pieces each. The garlic should be browned and soft, not crisp and not burnt (this will ruin the flavor of the whole pot of sauce). The oil is now flavored and will impart wonderful taste to the tomato sauce.

Next whisk your tomato paste, sauce, water, wine and seasoning in a large bowl until it is a smooth consistency and when you stir it you can see the little flecks of seasonings. Carefully pour the sauce mixture into the sauce pot with the flavored oil. Turn the heat on low and with a wooden spoon, scrap the edges and bottom of the pot until all of the cooked on bits have been incorporated into the sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes. Stirring every few minutes to ensure the sauce is not sticking and there are no spots burning on the bottom.

During this time you may prepare your meatballs if you are making them.

Next carefully add all of the browned meat (making note of how many pieces you have) and onion back into your pot. The garlic can be added to your meatball mixture or can be added to the sauce (you may want to chop it smaller). Carefully simmer the sauce on a very low heat, just high enough to see a light simmer on the surface of the sauce. You can cover with the lid askew to let the steam escape. You can add the cooked meatballs into the sauce when they come out of the oven, stirring must be very gentle if you have meatballs so you don’t break them. Continue to carefully stir and check the bottom for any sticking and burning for next hour or two. Check the sauce for flavor and add salt if needed, a little at a time. When the pork meat is very tender the sauce is done. Allow to cool a bit and settle off heat. If there is oil pooled on the top, you can skim it off.

I like to portion into quart containers for freezing, if you have made note of how many pieces of meat you have, you can divide them out evenly to the sauce portions. The whole onion can be chopped up and sautéed in a bit of butter top eat with bread.

Serve with the pasta of your choice, garlic bread and salad, top with parmesan or pecorino.


One response to “Red Sauce”

  1. […] is based on our family red sauce (recipe:, but is a slight variation with only the pork meat which gets ground into the sauce at the […]

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