Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday's Red Sauce Nite

Every family must have a particular dinner tradition at home. The Darragh's have Monday hotdogs nites and Tuesday's Red Sauce Nite. Apparently mom and dad started the tradition when they first got married. Not to say that there is anything wrong with it. A lot of times, fixed menu nites do make life a lot easier particularly if you are the one planning the family meal all week long. 

Neither mom nor dad has Italian blood in the family. But for some reason, they love their red sauce. Not just anybody's red sauce, rather it has to be the sauce made by dad. See, dad has a very distinct measurement method when it comes to cooking. Whatever he likes and the look right method, which basically means you have to make it enough to know what should be in there and how it should smell and taste. A little known fact about dad, he doesn't taste anything while he is cooking. For some reason, he can just tell by smell and look. How he manages to do that remains a mystery to us. 

And they have their preference for canned tomatoes too. In the summer when tomatoes are abundant in our garden, dad will make his fresh red sauce which is out of this world. Come fall and winter, we have to rely on canned tomatoes, which is not bad if you get Dad's favorite brand. Not all tomatoes are the same and Hunt's tomatoes just seems to work great in a sauce.

The process is pretty simple. Brown any meat you are using with olive oil. Add in the onion. Let it brown for 5-7 minutes.

Add in the whole tomatoes, water and paste. Let simmer for at least 3 hours.

And the biggest secret is, sauce taste better after it has sit overnight in the fridge. To re-heat, just put the sauce on medium low. Stir occasionally until sauce heats through to avoid burning. Takes about 1 hour to re-heat and please don't rush it. Burnt sauce never taste good.

Serve with your choice of pasta shape and grated parmesan or romano cheese.

Dad's Red Sauce
(Serves 6 to 8)


2 lb (about 1 kg) of Italian sausage or pork or ground beef
3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 28-oz (793g) cans of Hunt's whole or diced tomatoes
2 5-oz can (141g) cans of Hunt's tomato paste
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoon of oregano (you can opt to use Italian seasoning or a mix of oregano and basil)
a scant 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda; optional (we use it to reduce the acidity of the tomato sauce)
3 tablespoon of grated parmesan or romano cheese and extra for serving


1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.
2. Brown meat till a crust is formed. Turn meat over to brown the other side. Add in chopped onion.
3. When onion has softened, add in tomatoes and paste. Use a little water to rinse out the leftover tomatoes or paste in the can. Add the water to the pot. You do not need to add much water to do that.
4. Stir to combine. Let the mixture comes to a boil.
5. Add in baking soda and cheese. Reduce heat to medium low. Let the sauce simmer for 3 hours, uncovered. Stir periodically to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. If it does, reduce heat further. Just make sure that sauce is at a low simmer.
6. Let cool completely and store in refrigerator over night. Sauce taste better this way as the flavor has enough time to meld.
7. To re-heat, place pot on low heat. Stir occassionaly to avoid sticking to the bottom of pot. Reduce heat if necessary. Heat through, about 1 hour on low heat.
8. Serve with your choice of pasta cut and a sprinkle of parmesan or romano cheese

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