Tuesday, June 9, 2015

From Brooklyn, With Love - Mom's Spaghetti Sauce I

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the second game of the NBA Finals last night in overtime.  Each team has won one game.  Whoo Hoo, way to go Lebron!

Indiana Jones of Dog Dynasty 

My grandmother made the best Italian meat sauce in Brooklyn - heck, not just Brooklyn, but in the whole world, including Italy. I mean no disrespect to your own nonna or bubbe, but that's just the way it is.  How good was my grandma's sauce?  So good, I liked to eat it without the spaghetti. So good that a wooden spoon would stand up straight in the pot.  It was thick, rich, with a flavor that would bring tears of my joy to my eyes.

More Duck Dynasty

She claimed - and for once, I had no reason to doubt her veracity - that she had been given this recipe by an Italian neighbor lady, before I was born, and while she and Pop were living on Avenue D in Brooklyn.  This was a Big Deal, you understand - Italian mamas and nonnas did NOT give out their precious recipes to anyone, and certainly not to the Jewish lady next door.  But, my grandma could be charming when she wasn't being crazy, and we have all benefitted from her infrequent bouts of sanity.

Romeo, part of the Dog Dynasty

Before I go any further - today's ear worm is courtesy of Bond, James Bond.  I'm never sure why these things pop up, but this one has been chasing me around the kitchen all morning.

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again
For this is the end
I've drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I'm stolen
Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
In case you were wondering, my favorite Bond has been and always will be Sean Connery.  I think you can tell a lot about a person by learning who is their favorite Bond ... or their favorite Doctor.  The Ninth.  I know, I'm a head case.

My plans for the meat sauce, once I get past eating the first bowl with a soup spoon, no pasta - is to makes lasagna roulades.  You know, lasagna noodles rolled around a filling which should include ricotta cheese.  My grandmother never made lasagna, rolled or otherwise.  Meat sauce went on spaghetti while white clam sauce went on linguine.  That's the way the world worked in the fifties and sixties.  Those were simpler times, at least regarding food.  Me, I'm a complicated cook.  Twenty-eight different versions of meatloaf and not one of them is as good as my grandmother's.

Woody, the Big Dog of the Dog Dynasty

Regarding other things, the fifties and sixties were anything but simple. We had three assassinations, including a President, Brown v. Board of Education, passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the Watts Riots, Richard Nixon, and the Moon landing. Apparently the Moon really is a harsh mistress because we haven't been back since 1972.

Chelsea Rose, reigning Princess of Dog Dynasty

Mom's Spaghetti Sauce I

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, with roasted garlic if you got it
2 large chopped onions
2 large cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
2 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use Publix Market Beef)
2 large cans tomato puree
2 large (28 oz.) cans Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano if you can get them)
2 large (12 oz.) cans Contadina tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

In a large deep pot, add the onion to the oil.  Season the onion lightly with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic (this is in addition to the amounts listed with the ingredients).  Cook the onion for about five minutes till tender, then add the garlic and cook two or three minutes more.  Now add the beef, and break it up with the wooden spoon until it is fully browned (no remaining pink).

Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the fresh oregano and fresh basil.

Stirring frequently, bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat (take your time with this, then cover the pot, turn the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Stir every half hour, and always replace the cover.

If the sauce is becoming too thick, thin it with a small amount of water that has been added to the cans of tomato products and swished around.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the fresh herbs, and do any reseasoning.  If you don't have fresh herbs, use a teaspoon each of the dried stuff, adding for the last half hour of cooking.        

From my garden, three types of oregano, and sweet basil

This makes a lot, it goes good with any kind of pasta dish, stuffed or not, and it freezes well.

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