Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Mary's Spagehetti Sauce (Gravy)
Well, today I am cooking my wife's best friends spaghetti sauce. Since I am not Italian I can get away with calling it spaghetti sauce. It is actually known as "gravy" a term I have picked up since all the paisanos from Brooklyn started moving down the shore. One of the wonderful benefits of that migration to us beach bums is that our stores are now filled with the best Italian provisions and there are several Italian specialty stores where you can get fantastic bread from Brooklyn or Newark, NJ.
Before Mary taught my wife to make sauce, I was never very happy with our attempts. It just was never right. Mary generously unfolded for us the secrets of the best sauce I have every had. Here are some of the secrets. First of all, you must brown the tomato paste in olive oil before adding the rest of the tomatoes. The carmalization of the tomato paste adds to the depth of flavor so it is important not to skip this step. Another secret is to infuse the olive oil with onions and garlic rather than cooking the onions and garlic along time in the sauce. A final secret has to do with the tomatoes you use. It is important not to use imported tomatoes. The reason this is the case is that imported tomatoes are a cooked product. This is to get around import taxes on imported vegetables. If you use American tomato products you get more actual unadulterated tomatoes. (Who knew?)
So here goes the recipe. The recipe make quite a bit and it freezes well.
Mary's Tomato Sauce
1 #10 can of crushed tomatoes (not imported)
1/5 #10 can of tomato sauce
1 18 oz can of tomato paste
1/2 c. olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T garlic powder
salt & pepper
3 lbs sweet Italian sausage, well browned
meatballs (recipe below)
In a large stock pot, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent. (Adding a couple of pinches of salt at the beginning of cooking helps this along). Remove onions and garlic from pan, drain as much olive oil as possible back into the pan. Over high heat brown the tomato paste in the olive oil. Add the garlic powder, about 2 t. of salt and 20 grinds of pepper to the tomato paste. Blend in while continuing to cook a bit longer. Add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Taste and correct for seasoning. If the sauce is to acid add a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Bring to simmer. At this point I put aside a couple of cups of sauce for my son who is a vegetarian. Add sausage that has been browned on all sides (again the browning is important as it adds to the flavor profile) and the meatballs. It is actually the addition of and cooking with the meat that turns the sauce into "gravy". Cook at a slow simmer for 3-4 hours.
3 lb. of ground beef
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup of dried parsley
1/2 cup of pecorino romano cheese
unflavored dried bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375%. Beat the eggs together with the parsley, cheese, salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt as the cheese is salty). Mix in the garlic. Mix the meat into this mixture. Add enough bread crumbs so that the wetness is gone and the mixture holds together well. (About 3/4-1 and 1/4 cups). Make sure the everything is mixed together well.
Dip your fingers in oil. Roll mixture into balls about 1 and 1/2 times the size of a golf ball. Place in baking dish. Add about 1/4 of an inch of water to the baking dish. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes until the meatballs are browned. Add the meatballs to the sauce.