I am a Western farm girl who married into a large Italian family.
In fact, I married the “baby” of this very large, very Italian family. As a ritual each and every Sunday we went to dinner at “Ma’s” house. Sunday dinners at “Ma’s” house were a full production. She began preparing the meal on Saturday afternoon upon returning from the beauty parlor with every pin and curl perfectly in tact and immaculately polished cherry red fingernails.

Sundays after church there were always thirty to fifty people and the house was alive with energy, excitement, and the aromatic smell of garlic and herbs. The women gathered in the kitchen to share stories and recipes while the men convened either on the porch playing cards or on the lawn playing bocce ball and drinking Chianti.

My late mother in law — who stood barely over five feed tall, weighed 85 pounds, spoke about 2 paragraphs of English, had a mustache, and was meaner than a wild animal — could make a meat sauce that would bring a tear to your eye. She was absolutely convinced that this country farm girl her “baby” married was not going to be able to make a suitable meal for the dog, let alone her son. This tiny, old, Italian woman taught me the recipe we’re going to share with you today. Through much strength, respect and perseverance I mastered this sauce with as much gusto and passion as she also gave it — and we believe you can too!

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 medium sized white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 C red wine (Recommendation: good Merlot or Burgundy; If it’s not good enough for drinking it’s not good enough for cooking)
1 T brown sugar
1 large can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 large can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
Parmesan cheese for topping

In a large stock/sauce pot heat Olive Oil slightly. Then, on medium high heat, add onions and simmer until they are translucent. Next add garlic and simmer until it is golden. Pour in red wine and let simmer until the alcohol dissipates; stir in tomato paste and Italian Seasoning. Add the ground beef and pork and cook until the meats are browned thoroughly. Drain liquid off if necessary. Add caned tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

TIP: This sauce can also be made in a slow cooker. Follow the above instructions to the point of adding the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Place meat mixture, tomatoes and tomato sauce in a slow cooker and let simmer on low for 2-4 hours.


Photo credit: http://media-cache-ec5.pinterest.com/upload/241998179947292858_Cb8ETasX.jpg