|Luscious sausage and pork peeking up through the best sauce ever! Thanks, Mom!|
You've probably seen those posts on Facebook about "Growing Up Italian". Well, they're true, and I'm so thankful for our Italian heritage, our famiglia, our legacy!
My parents were second-generation Italians, they followed the ways of my grandparents, who were the first to come over from Calabria, Italy. We were proud Italians and everyone else, the Irish, Polish, Jewish were MED-E-GONES...which was fine, no hard feelings. We just felt Italian ways were the best! Haha! After all, we had the bread man, the ice man, the fruit & vegetable man, the fish man who came right to our doors with their goods. Even some came to sharpen scissors and knives. Most of our food came right from our gardens. It was wonderful!
Being Italian meant every day was an adventure in food, but Sunday was the big day! That was the day my brothers and I would wake up to the aroma of garlic and onions simmering in olive oil. Next we heard the sizzle of the tomatoes hitting the pan. Mom had the sauce started and this was the day for her meatballs and sauce with homemade ravioli or gnocchi. We had to fast before going to Mass, because you couldn't eat before Communion. But, as soon as we got home, we knew we'd find hot meatballs frying and there's nothing better than newly-fried meatballs and fresh homemade bread dipped into the pot of sauce!
Make this sauce for your next Sunday meal and share a bit of my childhood...you'll love it!
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. Premio Hot Italian Sausage (or your favorite)
6 (about 3 lbs.) pork chops or pork tenderloin, cut up
1-2 cups dry red wine (if desired)
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes w/basil
1 (28oz) can whole plum tomatoes (pour in bowl and break apart with your hands)
1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano
6 leaves of fresh sweet basil leaves, cut up or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot on low, heat the oil and sauté the sausage and pork chops until brown on all sides, about 20-30 minutes - don't worry if the meat is not cooked through because the meat will finish cooking in the sauce.
Remove the meat from the pan into a bowl; (here's where you can add a little red wine into the emptied pan, if you like...approximately 1 cup). Cook the wine for about 10-15 minutes to deglaze the pan. Then add the garlic and onions now. If you don't want the wine, just skip that step and add the garlic and onions to the emptied pan. Sauté until garlic is golden brown and onions are soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes on medium low.
Add tomatoes, Parmigiano, basil and sugar; allow to simmer one hour over low heat. Add the meat back into the sauce and let cook on low for 3-4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. (See flavor tip below)
This can be done in the slow cooker so easily. After you've added the tomatoes, skip cooking it for the hour, and add the meat and all into the slow cooker. Now, just sit back and relax, and let it cook all day. It's ready when the oil floats to the top.
If I'm adding meatballs (and that's always) I remove the pork and sausage to a bowl, cover them with foil to keep them warm. Then I add the fried meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for 1 hour before serving the sauce over your favorite spaghetti or pasta.
My Mom's Tips:
1. Always save the oil from the meatballs, and add a small ladle to the sauce as it cooks. Adds great flavor.
2. An important quote from Mom, "Never use oregano in spaghetti sauce...oregano is for pizza sauce!"
"Be careful not to do your "acts of righteousness" before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." - Matthew 6:1