A rainy Sunday is the perfect day to replenish our supply of pasta sauce. Actually, any day is perfect, but a rainy day really does make it easy to blow off everything else and just spend time in the kitchen! Not that we really need an excuse to do nothing but cook… but you get the idea…

Victor is still working one-handed – he gets the stitches out tomorrow morning – so I did my part of the sauce-making by opening the dozen cans of San Marzano tomatoes and the bottle of wine. My role in this really is just canning it – Capo Chef Victor does the cooking.

After all these years, we really do have this down to a science. A couple of hours to make the sauce, a couple of hours to get it all canned, and before you know it, 14 quarts of sauce are in the basement and another is on the counter for tonight’s dinner.



The recipe really doesn’t vary much. Amounts change, but it’s basically the same. He makes about six times this basic 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.



And then it goes into jars and into the pressure canner…


I had Victor come in and take pictures while I was filling jars. And then I took a few when they came out of the canner…


And another…


This should keep us in sauce until July. I wonder if we could get enough tomatoes this year to can a batch from our garden?!? That would be nice!


This really is something anyone can do – you can pressure-can or just do a hot water bath. It’s really easy – and the result is far superior to any sauce you buy in the grocery store. It really only takes a couple of hours – and most of the time is unattended.

Make some – you’ll be happy you did!