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Another Vat of Sauce

Victor has been making sauce and I’ve been jarring it for a long, long time, now. It’s just something that takes a bit of time, but is so worth it in the long run. I even graduated from plain ol’ mason jars to fancy jars that look like store-bought.

I do have to admit that it’s not as inexpensive as buying sauce, but… Prego doesn’t use San Marzano tomatoes like we do. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making something, make it good with good ingredients. Make it worth your while.

We have the process down to a science… Victor makes the sauce and I do the canning. Teamwork.

We have a big ol’ pot that we bought years ago and it gets filled up and then goes for a slow simmer for a few hours…

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While the sauce is simmering, I get the jars ready…

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I like the one-piece lids on these but think I may be going back to mason jars at some point. I kinda like the old-school look and feel of a good ol’ mason jar. Not to mention I have dozens of them in the basement – complete with lids and rings.

Of course, that would mean I would have to stay away from my favorite jar website – Fillmore Container – and stop getting their emails and all that.  Yeah. Right. I probably won’t be doing that any time soon. Going through the pages of bottles and jars is almost as bad as going through the Atlantic Spice website. Food porn. That’s all there is to it.

But back to the sauce…

First I fill up the jars…

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I got 14 quarts this time around. That’s about the average. I canned 13 and kept one out for dinner, tonight. They then go into the canner – 7 quarts at a time.

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They can at 11 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes – and then i do it all over again. Fortunately, I don’t have to stand in front of the stove while it’s going on – just check once in a while to make sure the pressure remains constant.

And then they come out to cool.

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I had one that didn’t seal properly this time around, so it went into the ‘fridge and we’ll use it up sometime in the next week or so. The rest of them went downstairs to the basement with the other goodies. I rarely have one that doesn’t seal properly and it’s pretty much the main reason I thought about going back to two-piece lids.

We had the sauce served over Cavatelli.

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It was totally delish. And just now – while double-checking that I spelled cavatelli correctly, I bought a cavatelli maker. $34.95. What the hell. So much for purging and getting rid of stuff. It will be here in a few days. Fresh pasta and homemade sauce.

La vita è bella.

Oh… here’s the recipe…

Victor’s Pasta Sauce

  • 2 – 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – Sm can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or to taste if you like more) chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasonings
  • Hot red pepper flakes (a tsp or more or less to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (always cook with a decent wine, never “cooking” wine) about a cup or cup and a half
  • Meat – such as Italian sausage or some nice beef or pork ribs or pork chops

Ok…I ALWAYS make my sauce with meat, so start with a deep, heavy pot and add about 3-4 TBS of olive oil. On high heat, once the oil is hot, start frying the sausage or pork, Let the meat get good and caramelized although you don’t have to cook it all the way through because you’ll add it back to the sauce to finish. Once the meat is browned take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it begins to “melt”. Add the chopped garlic and sauté with the tomato paste for just a minute (no longer or it will burn). Then add about a cup of the red wine and deglaze  the pan with it, scrapping up all the good bits that stuck to the bottom when cooking the meat.

When the wine reduces by about ½ start adding the canned tomatoes.  Add one can of hot water for every can of tomatoes you use.

Now start adding the dried Italian seasonings.  I eyeball it but I would guess a good 2 TBS is fine.  Add about another ½ cup of red wine, with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir everything into the sauce. It will be very thin at this point.

Add back the cooked meat. Now this is important….at the bottom of the plate you let the meat rest on will be some of the oil and juices that seeped out. Pour that back into the pot. It has a lot of flavor in it.

Bring the sauce back to a boil then turn the heat down low and let it simmer for at least 1 and a half hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it from burning. It should reduce by about a third or a little less and get thicker. The meat will absorb the sauce and get very tender.

When I make meatballs, I don’t fry them, I bake them on a sheet pan. When I do, I add them to the simmering sauce when they’re done so they also absorb the flavor.

I usually make the sauce early in the day and after it’s done, just let it sit on the stove until dinner then I re-heat it. This should make enough sauce for a couple of dinners or good sized lasagna.

 

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