Friday, February 20, 2009

Mama Mora's "Gravy" (Spaghetti Sauce)

This recipe was sent to me by my then, MIL from Sturno, Italy. back then I spoke no Italian so my DH had to translate it for me. There are a couple of nuances that IMO make this recipe taste wonderful. According to what another chef friend told me, the Northern Italians use sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes, but the Southern Italians use the seeds of the herb, "fennel", to sweeten them.

Another thing that is important is to use " plum" tomatoes. Mama called for POPE brand crushed tomatoes and they are very hard to find anymore, I have been able to find a brand called, CENTO , but look for the small plum tomatoes on the label picture, those are the ones you want to use. I have used other brands of just regular crushed tomatoes and they're not as good.

I also always use fresh herbs ( basil and oregano & parsley) and I use only the leaves of the herbs, never the stems. Dom interpreted the "spaghetti sauce seasoning" as dried Italian seasoning so thats what I use.Oh, and if you use the Italian sausage it already contains fennel seed, so I usually only use about 1/2 teaspoon and I smash them with a rolling pen.


Use half ground pork and half ground veal or " Hillshire brand" Italian sausage, mild or hot. ( Gauge this by how much meat you want in the gravy, I usually use equal ammounts of all three.

1 large can "Cento brand" crushed tomatoes ( just make sure they are "plum" tomatoes.

2- 6 ounce cans tomato paste ( the Cento brand I found had a 12 ounce size )

2 ounces olive oil

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 sweet onion ( I use texas sweet)

1 bunch, leaves only, fresh oregano

1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only, minced

half as much fresh parsley as basil, leaves only, minced

Italian seasoning ( I use about 1 teaspoon)

Fennel seeds ( I use about 1/2 teaspoon and smash them with a rolling pin)

1 teaspoon paprika

Mix crushed tomatoes, fennel seed, basil, parsley,oregano, paprika and Italian seasoning in large pot and simmer.

Fry in the olive oil, the fresh garlic and minced onion, but do not brown, then add meat and cook till done.

Strain out the meat and add to the simmering tomatoes.

In the remaining grease in the skillet, add the tomato paste and cook until it changes color, then add to the simmering mixture. Simmer on low 3-4 hrs. I've been usisng a crock pot so I don't have to watch it and letting it simmer all day on low.

I make all the italian dishes that call for "sauce" ie... spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, eggplanat or veal parmesan,etc... with it.

NOTES: Dried herbs may be used. I just prefer to use fresh ones as I think it makes the "gravy" taste better.

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