Welcome to Sunday at the Dineen/Martorano household. Just starting to simmer on the stove is a vat of sauce I will be canning later on today. A 21-quart pot prit’ near filled to the rim with simmering scintillating sauce! I’m pretty psyched!

We used to make big batches of sauce and freeze it in 1 quart tupperware containers – and then Victor got me a pressure canner! What a great addition to the family!  I have had so much fun canning different things – and I really can’t wait until the summer garden is over-producing! Making sauce with quality canned tomatoes is one thing – making it from tomatoes out of your own garden is a league of its own!

He doesn’t make a complicated sauce. It’s rich and flavorful and stands on its own, but can also be used as a base for other things. It’s the perfect all-purpose sauce. And we’re gonna have lots of it!

Victor’s 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 tbsp 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.

We just used up the last of the batch he made before Christmas. Some of that batch went out as Christmas gifts. This one is going into the cupboard! It’s mine!  All mine!!!  All 18 quarts!


We used one for dinner.


The older I get – and I am getting old and crotchety – the more I really appreciate slower, simpler food. I’m totally over mass-produced instant gratification food. I just don’t care that a frozen whatever or a canned or refrigerated whatever tastes fabulous – I’m not bringing it home. I can totally appreciate the artistry behind a fabulous restaurant meal. I’d rather sit home and make a pot of soup.

Of course, in a mere 82 days we’ll be heading to Sicily for 2 weeks. I think there will be a restaurant meal or two in my future while we’re on the island. But I also think the places we’ll be eating will be off the beaten track and more neighborhood rustic than Michelin starred. And the villa we rented has an organic garden – and we have exclusive use of it. More time in the kitchen!

Then, again… I’m not there, yet. Anything is possible. Because my preference today is for one thing does not preclude me from wanting and/or enjoying something entirely different tomorrow. It’s why I don’t make meal plans and figure out meals for the week. I don’t know what I’m going to want on Thursday. I’ll figure that out, then.

In the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of sauce to play with.

I’m pleased.