In Maria's kitchen, there was always sauce in the cupboard. She was my first teacher, and I was her dutiful laborer. I learned out of necessity because we were poor. But poverty, she taught me, is only an economic condition.
The recipe that I share with you is a rich, meat sauce. Many times, my mother would use the cheapest cut of meat or bones, whatever she could afford.
Sundays, the day when we usually made sauce, was a day of celebration. My mother and I, who began cooking early in the morning, would have the sauce ready to be served when our family arrived, typically around 1 or 2 PM. Our typical Sunday dinner began with a soup. Then, we would have pasta (rigatoni, manicotti, or gnocchi), followed by a meat course, which was usually the meat from the sauce, and a couple of side dishes, like escarole, roasted potatoes, roasted red peppers, or whatever was in season. And finally, my mother would serve a salad. Desert was usually fresh fruit.
Naturally, thirsty throats accompanied their meals with glasses of my father's homemade wine.
After dinner, we would talk, laugh, scream, and watch sports, to which we would either cheer or boo. Throughout the day, friends would come over. We would eat again and drink a few more glasses of wine.
I guess I am nostalgic, but that one day I saw life going forward. We celebrated our survival as individuals, as a family, and as a community.
People I talk to these days still remember those days fondly. Sundays at the Masci's with Maria's sauce.
MEAT SAUCE - Ingredients for 40 qts of sauce
- 2 Green peppers
- 2 Medium onions
- 4 oz of garlic
- 14 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 14 oz Pomace olive oil
- 6 oz of basil
- 3 lbs of pecorino romano cheese
- 3 #10 cans of tomato paste
- 3 #10 cans of San Marzano whole peeled pear tomoatoes in basil (crush by hand, removing all stems)
- 2 packs of lamb
- salt and pepper
- In a 40 quart pot, add olive oil and meat, Brown by turning all sides for about 40 minutes. Take out meat and put aside. Add chopped peppers, onions, garlic, and basil. Sizzle until translucent.
- Add tomato paste.
- Add crushed, stem-free San Mar. tomatoes.
- Add enough water to fill just below top of pot.
- Put meat back in the sauce.
- Add three big handfuls of salt.
- Add one big handful of pepper.
- Cook approximately four hours. Lower flame, add romano cheese for the last 45 minutes.
- 10 lbs of Hatfield hot rope sausage
- Roughly chop 5 green peppers and 8 onions
- Cook sausage in a roasting pan with 1 inch of water covered with aluminum foil in oven for 45 minutes at 500 degrees.
- Cut sausage in 2 inch or 4 inch pieces (your preference)
- Add approx. 2 quarts of meat sauce or plum sauce. Mix and put back in oven. Cover with aluminum foil for 60 to 75 minutes at 500 degrees. Take out, mix, and serve.