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This is a place where I will share my love of flowers, cooking and baking, gardening and fashion (shoes! lots of shoes!) I would love for you to stay a while and take a look and leave a comment if something catches your interest.
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Meat Sauce alla Nonna

You wanna know the secret to an old world tomato sauce, some of you may balk, PORK!  Yes, pork makes all the difference in the taste of your sauce (and meat balls) ask any nonna:)

Today I'm going to give you my Nonna's recipe for her famous, really everybody that ate her sauce fell in love with it-really, sauce (with a few of my mom's tricks thrown in the mix)

Get a small stock pot (I've heard that wider with lower sides makes the best sauce but I don't have one so I use a small standard stock pot)
Couple of table spoons of olive oil (you need the real stuff here people-none of that "other" oil)
Grated carrots (I used 1 to 2 horse carrots)
Grated celery (2-3 stalks)
Small chopped onion (1-2 depending on size)
Minced garlic (4-5 cloves but really to your taste)
Grated zucchini
Finally chopped peppers
Grated eggplant

Now all of these veggies are grated, or small, because most Italians don't have chunky sauce but hey, whatever floats your boat:)  I know that half the pot is veggies but they melt down into nothingness leaving all their yummy flavour and just think of how many nutrients you're getting into your kids and they don't even know!
Start the oil on med-low heat and add all your veggies with some salt and let it sweat (MMMM sweaty veggies!) Keep the lid on but not completely sealed-steam needs to vent. Let it sweat for a while (if you find it gets a little dry then add a little water at a time
When your veggies have started to "melt" and become clear you add your meat
1/3 veal, 1/3 pork, 1/3 beef do you like a meaty sauce add more meat, don't want too much meat add less, no meat add the bones (available at any decent butcher shop-I go to Columbus Meat Market on Renfew and 1st Ave-they grind their meat fresh when you order).  You can use chicken or turkey as well but I recommend keeping the pork in the mix (even if it's just the pork bones)
Cook your meat at low heat, not looking for browning in this recipe, and add parmesan cheese rinds that you have left over in the fridge (cause you grind your own cheese and save the rinds-RIGHT!:))  TONS of flavour in those little babies:)
Add some more salt, pepper, your herbs and just let it cook
Now when I make sauce, I make sauce!  So I use three cans of crushed tomatoes-ones that I canned myself but the ones from the store can be just as good!  I also add a jar of pepper sauce (1/2 roasted tomatoes and 1/2 sweet peppers blended together but if you add peppers to your sauce at the beginning it gives a similar taste) and 3/4 can of tomato paste.
Italians don't waste so we usually add a few tablespoons of water to the can to get every little bit of tomato but I now use apple juice which cleans the can but adds a little sweetness too.  1 cup of red, has to be red, wine a few tablespoons of sugar, 2-3 tablespoons chicken soup bouillon cube powder (if you use the squares add one and then to taste after), chopped up parsley and basil (do you grown your own in the summer?  clean and chop parsley and put it into a freezer bag and then an sealed container in the freezer for use all winter.  Basil-puree with olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays or baggies so you can chop pieces off as needed and use all winter long) 
Now simmer, for hours!, and every once in a while taste to make sure (Italians taste with bread-it's just what our people do MMMM) does you're sauce need more sugar (for acid) or maybe some more salt or herbs-it's very personal to you at this point so have some fun. 
Now make your al dente pasta and enjoy your hard work!!  Crusty bread and a salad-OMG you have no idea the delight!  If you did go to Columbus Meat to get your ground meat or bones get some of their fresh sausage and have a bbq too-SOOO GOOD! (voted best in the city 3 years ago by Vancouver Mag)
You'll notice this is actually very healthy!  only a little oil, use extra lean cuts of meat, all those melted veggies in the sauce, so good and healthy:)
The reason it's such a big pot?  I'm a busy girl with men to feed and do not have time to cook like this every day so I take clean sour cream containers, etc, divvy up the sauce and freeze them and have home made sauce in the fridge for a month.
Hope you try it-let me know if you have any questions or maybe you have some secret family tips to share.....

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