For my dirty-minded readers (and oh how I adore you), that’s not a metaphor. I’m actually talking about meat sauce.
Or if you’re Sicilian like Joey Lupo in Speak Easy, or like my mother’s family, you might call it gravy. In the book, there is a scene where Joey cooks pasta with gravy for Tiny and her sisters–one of my favorite scenes to write.
Aside from THOSE scenes. 😉
Anyway, I’m making it today for my family, and thought I’d share the recipe with you.
A little history first! My great-grandmother’s name was Josephine, and she came with her husband and two young children from Carini, Sicily in 1902. My grandmother, Virginia, wasn’t born until 1921, one of eleven siblings. (Sometimes it’s very strange to me that Tiny is “older” than my own grandmother…)
Anyway, I guess the recipe came from the old country with her, but no one ever wrote it down. Much later, like maybe during the 60s or 70s, my mother told me that some of her aunt/uncles/cousins wanted the recipe, but no one who knew it would talk.
Through trial and error and memory, they put it together, but there was one special ingredient no one could pinpoint–and still nobody who knew it would talk.
Anyway, below is the one they came up with…WARNING: Your house will smell so good while this sauce is simmering, you might have the entire neighborhood floating to your door on the scent.
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. Bob Evans Italian sausage (because Bob is so Italian)
1 large can (1 lb. 12 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 medium can (14.5 oz.) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine or marsala wine
- Brown sausage in a frying pan, remove from heat and drain.
- In a large nonstick pot, brown garlic and onion over medium heat. Add meat and all cans of tomatoes to pot.
- Fill each tomato can with water and add to pot. Stir.
- Cover the top with basil, oregano (less) and Italian seasonings (less). Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, sugar, bay leaf and wine.
- Stir until lumps are gone over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cover.
- Simmer 1-2 hours over low heat. Take the cover off for the last 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.