I've been on a mission recently. A family cookbook related mission. I've been trying to collect all the favorite recipes from our families and put together a cookbook by Christmas time. I've gotten quite a few good ones.
One of my most sought-after recipes is the "sugo" which I believe is Italian for "slam banging pasta sauce". The women of my family each make their own variation of this recipe...each has its own unique taste. I can close my eyes and distinctly remember the taste of my Grandma Ginger's spaghetti, as well as my Aunt Helena's, my Nana's, and of course, my own mom's. Each perfect in its own right. There is a particularly surprising secret ingredient to one of those sauces that I discovered through my recipe-requesting...but you'll have to read the book for that little gem.
Well I know I talk about how I'm Italian all the time on here and I have yet to share any secret sauce recipes, so I plan to remedy that here and now. I didn't use my mom's recipe because I think you have to at least try to make each recipe your own (and also because she doesn't follow a recipe really, she just works her magic as she goes...incredible!). After many many iterations of this dish, I finally have a recipe that I'm happy with.
Sugo and Meatballs
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 medium onion, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup parsley
1/3 cup parmesan
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 Tbsp basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
Start your sauce. Using a heavy pot, saute garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent and garlic is beginning to brown. This is how all the best Italian recipes begin.
Add crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Preheat the oven to 450.
At this point, start your meatballs. Place all your meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix together using your hands until well incorporated. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Roll the meat mixture into large balls, I usually get about 15-16 out of this recipe. Place meatballs on cookie sheet and bake in the center of the oven about 12 minutes. Remove meatballs from oven and set aside.
Return to your sauce. Add the tomato paste, basil, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. I like my sauce a little spicy, if you don't, leave out the red pepper flakes. Stir sauce until the tomato paste and spices mix in. Remove the meatballs from the pan and place them in the sauce, being careful not to break them. Make sure the meatballs are covered with sauce, cover the pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 90 minutes.
If your sauce gets too thick, you can add a tomato-paste-can-full of water to the sauce. I usually don't have to do this, but if you let the sauce simmer for longer than 90 minutes, you may need to.
At this point, cook whatever pasta you like according to directions and serve meatballs and sauce over top. Voila!
For non-food-related news, we took Cricket to the dog park today for the first time. She is very shy with other dogs/people at first, as Shelties tend to be, and was just gearing up to play with the other dogs when they had to leave. So we're going to try again tomorrow. After the cat experience, she's itching for more friends to play with. Here's the latest picture of the goofball.
Too cute, huh? She's also starting to really enjoy hanging her head out the window of the car. Today this guy pulled up next to us and saw this little face and just couldn't help but grin at her. It was hilarious. Everybody loves our little prancer.