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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Badabing Sauce!!!! The only red sauce recipe you'll ever need!

So, today is June 12th, 2010. My oldest daughter Kelsey is graduating high school It's a gorgeous sunny day, and unfortunately I am unable to attend the graduation. But that doesn't keep me from thinking of all the memories made over the years of her growing up. In fact, it made me think back to when she was newly born- so tiny, the world her oyster! That Christmas, my grandfather and my sister Kimberly came to stay with my (ex)wife, my baby and I. It was a great holiday, and I was able to spend some one-on-one time learning about my granpda Sam at the same time I was learning about my daughter and who I was to become as a father.

Now, grandpa Sam,- who's birth name was Salvatore, a good Italian name!- took a day to teach me how to make "gravy", or red sauce, or spaghetti sauce if you will! The recipe I'm about to share with you is more about the method, layering the flavors and roasting the sauce in the oven for a few hours. This sauce is so rich, you won't realize just how good it is until you have someone else's sauce, and you realize something is missing from theirs!!!

This sauce takes at least 4 hours to make, but much of that is while the sauce is roasting, and you are drinking wine and laughing with family. Don't be intimidated. There are specific steps to this recipe. Flavors are layered through the caramelization of the meat and vegetables, a little at a time, to build up the "fond" at the bottom of the pan (that's the brown stuff that we want to deglaze from the pan- lots of flavor!). Do not use a non-stick pan for this!!! Now, to do this the way grandpa Sam did it that day, you need some leftover beef and pork bones to roast in the sauce. If you can add those items, add an additional half hour (minimum) to the cooking time.

And, at the end of cooking this sauce, ladle out a small dish of sauce in to a bowl. Grab a spoon, and just sit for a minute. Let the sauce cool, and then taste for seasoning, and more importantly, SAVOR THE FLAVOR!

So, in honor of my daughter Kelsey, and in memory of my grandpa, I made red sauce today ad I share it with you here!

Trust me, this is the only recipe for spaghetti sauce you need. And, this makes plenty to freeze, or better yet, invite "the family"!

Badabing, BADABOOM!

Classic Italian Red Sauce

2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1-6 oz can of tomato paste
2 C finely chopped onions
1-1/2 C finely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
3/4 C finely chopped carrots (about 1-1/2 carrots)
1/3 C minced garlic
1/4 C roasted garlic, chopped and crushed on your cutting board
1/2 C chopped kalamata olives (or other greek olives)
1/2 C olive juice (from jar)

1 lb Isernio's lean chicken Italian sausage (or another good quality lean Italian sausage)
1/3-1/2 lb homemade meatballs, chopped (recipe not included, today!)

2 C beef broth/bouillon
1 C red wine, optional (but, if you add it, make sure it is something you would drink)

3 stems fresh oregano + 1/4 C dried oregano
3/4 C freshly chopped basil + 1/3 C dried basil
2 large (or 3 small) bay leaves
3 T dried rosemary, crushed in your hand
Rinds from your Parmesan (you don't still get it in a green shaker, do you????)

Olive oil
2 T salt (you may have to add more after roasting- tomatoes crave the salt! But, you can always add more and never take it out, so go gently)
2-3 T black pepper
2-4 T crushed red pepper (once they roast in the sauce, they will mellow out. But, you can always add more at the end, and never take it out, so go gently)

  1. Heat a large (6-8 quart) Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan over MEDIUM-HIGH heat for about 90 seconds. Add olive oil to thinly coat 1/2 of the bottom of the pan. Wait about 30-40 seconds and add the Italian sausage, breaking it up in the pan. Turn the HEAT TO MEDIUM, and walk away for a couple minutes. Allow to lightly brown (to the color of oak shelves) and stick to the bottom of the pan a bit. Once all of it is cooked and there is fond visible at the bottom of the pan, spoon out the sausage and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
  3. Bring the HEAT back up to MEDIUM-HIGH, and add 1 T of olive oil. Wait about 45 seconds, and add a pinch of onions. If they sizzle then it is time to add the rest of the onions.. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Once they are translucent and starting to brown slightly (about 7 minutes) add the celery, carrots and garlic- in that order! This will help us to keep the garlic from burning. Stir, reduce HEAT TO MEDIUM, and allow the vegetables to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Move all the vegetables to the outer parts of the pan leaving the center empty. Add the green peppers and mushrooms to that space. Stir, just to keep from sticking, and then let every thing sit, sauteing for about 5-7 minutes, stirring about halfway through.
  5. Add 1 T salt, and the can of tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaves. Stir to incorporate and coat all the vegetables. Now, we want the paste to caramelize a bit. Stir often for about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add beef broth, wine, olives, olive juice, crushed tomatoes and meats. Stir.
  7. Add water- we need to fill one of the empty 28 oz cans of tomatoes twice with fresh water, and stir in to our sauce.
  8. Add the rest of the herbs, salt, pepper and stir. Bring the whole pot up to a temperature at which it seems hot, but it's not simmering yet. Turn off the burner, and place the whole pot (uncovered) in to the middle of the oven. Set the timer for 2-1/2 hours and stir at the 1 and 2 hour points.
  9. At 2-1/2 hours, turn off the oven and put a lid on the pot. LEAVE the pot in the oven for at least 30 minutes, an hour if you can afford the time.
  10. Remove pot from oven, and remove bay leaves and Parmesan rinds. Taste for seasoning- salt, pepper, basil- what does it need? Add salt! You know it needs it. Can you taste a bit of licorice after you swallow? That would be a nice hint of basil and oregano. If not, add some dried herbs.
  11. Break out the immersion blender and pulse just a few times- maybe 8-10. OR, break out the blender, and ladle out 1/2 a blender full of sauce, and puree. Add back to the pan. The sauce should have some small pieces and chunks to it- not perfectly smooth.
Now, tell me- is that not the best sauce you've ever had???

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