When you find an old typed recipe for red sauce in the family collection you have to give it some real consideration. When I saw this requires 6 hours of simmer time I knew I had the real deal. I’ve discussed red sauce with more than a few Italians over the years. Every good family has there own recipe for making it “right”, but the good ones have a few things in common.
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Some red sauce recipes start with fresh tomatoes, some start with canned tomatoes, but the good one all require the sauce to simmer for several hours to develop deep flavors and sweetness from the natural sugars in the tomatoes. Some recipes try to hurry this along by adding sugar, but it does not taste the same.
The other common factor is a short list of simple ingredients – tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and usually red wine. There are some minor variations and additions for every family, but those are the basics. I’ll cover meatballs in another post, but I will say I prefer them cooked in the sauce. Whichever meatball recipe you use, I recommend browning them in a skillet on the stove top and then finishing in the sauce during the last hour of cooking. you won’t be disappointed.
The recipe below comes from a large family and makes the equivalent of about three jars of store bought sauce, or enough for about 12 people. You can cut the recipe down for a smaller family, but it freezes well so you can make up a big batch and have it when you need it.
Italian Red Sauce
A true classic Italian red sauce that would make your grandma proud (if she was Italian).
- 2 28 oz Cans of crushed tomatoes
- 2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 Cloves of garlic, minced (cut very fine)
- 1 large onion, cut into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
- 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/3 Cup red wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- In a large heavy pot heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes
- Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, until it the onions brown slightly
- Add the red wine and stir well to loosen and brown bits from the pan
- Add the tomato paste and stir well to mix everything together. Let this cook for a minute or two.
- Add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 hours. Stir occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking or burning.
- One hour before you plan to serve the sauce add the basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir well. This is the time to add the meatballs after browning on the stove top if you want to include those as well.
- Cover and continue to simmer for one more hour, stirring occasionally
- Taste before serving and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Serve in a large bowl with the pasta of you choice.
Always take a little taste before serving and adjust seasoning if needed. Sometimes you need just a pinch more of salt, garlic powder, etc. to get it just the way you want it.