Every Italian Nonna has their “sugo” or sauce recipe. They are all slightly different, and their children and grandchildren all grew up eating it- there is no Nonna that makes the same sauce. That is why learning my Nonna’s recipe was so important to me. It was a hard feat. Believe me, my Nonna doesn’t give away many secrets. After being told how to do it a few times and not getting it quite right, I decided to go over for a visit and watch my Nonna make her sauce. Voila! I have finally mastered her recipe.
I am not quite sure how happy she would be with me sharing her secrets with the world, but it is just too good not to share. So here it is, our family pasta sauce recipe!
1 Large Yellow Onion
3-4 Stalks of Celery
2 Cloves of Garlic
½ lb of Lean Ground Beef
½ lb of Lean Ground Pork
½ lb of Lean Ground Veal
(Many grocers sell these three meats together)
1 can of tomato paste
3 cans of Whole San Marzano Tomatoes (pay extra for these- they are worth it)
1 cup of Red Wine
1 tsp of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Chop the onion, celery and carrots into a fine chop and add to a large pot along with 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Place on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes.
2. In a frying pan, add crushed garlic along with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat and let cook for about 2 minutes, and then add the meat. Using a wooden spoon mix the meat together and begin breaking it down in the pan with the wooden spoon.
3. After about 5 minutes, when the meat begins to brown, add the entire can tomato paste and stir until combined, the meat should start breaking down further. Cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.
4. After 20 minutes, add 1 cup of red wine to the vegetables and place a lid on the pot. This will lock in the steam and cook them down faster. They should take on the colour of the wine and look almost purple.
5. Add the meat to the vegetables and mix together, leave the pot uncovered now.
Add three cans of the San Marzano Tomatoes (they will be whole) use your wooden spoon to break them down a bit.
6. Leave the sauce to simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes, make sure you stir it so it doesn't burn at the bottom. Then, use an immersion or hand blender and lightly pulse the pot of sauce to break down the tomatoes, meat and vegetables. Add basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.
7. Simmer on low for about 1 hour.
***If you are a true Italian, you take this opportunity to make a “sauce sandwich” which means pouring sauce all over a piece of bread and enjoying the fruits of your labour!***
Tip: Make your sauce on a day where you have time to let it simmer and rest, good sauce can’t be rushed.
Wine Pairing: I like to go “old school” and drink my Nonna’s homemade wine with her pasta sauce. It’s nothing extraordinary, but it has such a nostalgic feel to it, that I can’t help myself. The next best thing- try a Dolcetto D’Alba.