~ Out of my Head ~
This recipe was a staple of my childhood. Never written down, my mom made it from her head. She learned it from her mom who, of course, made it from her head. When I went to college and had an apartment of my own, I craved it something fierce. Calling my mom, I got instructions that went something like this: "Brown some ground meat with some onions and garlic powder, add some sauce and paste - more paste than sauce - with some water to thin it, add some basil and oregano - more basil than oregano..." Umm, yeah. Thanks, Mom. I'm sure it will taste exactly the same.
I cleverly refined my approach: drive to Mom's house, sit down with paper and pencil, and say, "Okay, make sauce." So I did, and so she did, and so I watched with a keen eye and took careful notes. I still didn't have exact amounts, but I felt confident I could recreate this masterpiece. Wrong-o!
The first time I made it was a disaster. Do you know what happens when you make lasagna with sauce that is way too thin? Those noodles slide all around on your plate like Bambi's attempt to ice skate. It does not stand nicely in cubed form, but rather resembles what I can only describe as "pasta splat". That's what.
In time, I found success. I learned not to over-water. I replaced the garlic powder with real cloves. Sometimes I add fresh basil and oregano. I discovered that a bit of hot sausage is nice. Both my lasagna and I can stand tall. I had achieved making the family red sauce from my head, too.
It's taken many batches of red sauce and trial-and-error with measurements to get this Keeper written down. No longer stuck in anyone's head, I am finally able to share it with you.
Kimmers' Red Sauce
3 generous tablespoons of olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
5-8 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 pounds ground meat (I use 1 pound each of ground turkey, sweet Italian chicken sausage, and hot Italian chicken sausage.)
3/8 cup dried basil
1/4 cup dried oregano
30 ounces canned tomato sauce (I use two 15 ounce cans.)
30 ounces canned tomato paste (I use two 12 ounce cans and one 6 ounce can.)
28 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen brand.)
15 ounces water
2 tablespoons sugar1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, add onions to olive oil and stir until evenly coated. Add ground meat, garlic, basil, and oregano. (If you use link sausage, remove meat from casing first by running a sharp knife longways along link.) Break up meat into small pieces and cook thoroughly.
Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and sauce. Fill one of the 15 ounce cans with hot tap water. Use that water to swirl around in the cans to get all the tomato sauce and paste, then add this tomato-water to the pot. Stir thoroughly. Your red sauce should have a nice consistency, kind of on the thick side.
Using my amounts as guidelines, add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. The sugar will cut the acidity of the tomatoes to give your sauce a nice flavor.
Ladle sauce over prepared pasta and garnish with grated cheeses if desired. Serve immediately.
* This recipe makes a large batch, which is convenient because it freezes so nicely. To freeze leftover sauce, put it in freezer bags and lay flat on a baking pan until frozen. When ready to use, loosen the freezer bag by running it under hot tap water. Then cut the bag to remove the frozen block of sauce, and place in large pan on low heat to thaw. Stir and turn frequently until heated through.
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