Mamma’s Red SauceCourse: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
This recipe makes enough sauce for one batch of my famous TURKEY AND CARAMELIZED ONION MEATBALLS, which is more than enough to accompany 1 lb. of pasta.
We all know that once you put something on the internet, it’s never really yours again. As such, I dragged my feet sharing this recipe. It is very special to me because I developed the sauce recipe in 2005, when I was a baby chef, working as the Executive Chef at a Banquet Center. And it has a secret ingredient! Nope, not sugar. That’s not secret. Every Sicilian grandmother I knew growing up in New York put sugar in their sauce.
The secret ingredient is Worcestershire Sauce! I know, seems odd, but it works. Among other ingredients, Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies, which impart a flavor profile called umami. Umami is known as the “fifth taste”, (sweet, sour, bitter, salty are the others). It is characterized by a savory “meatiness”. It is naturally occurring in mushrooms, tomatoes, and many other fermented foods, as the flavor comes from the presence of glutamate, an amino acid.
A small amount of Worcestershire sauce used in tomato sauce heightens the naturally occurring umami flavor of the tomatoes, which really boosts the flavor. I cannot wait for you to try it and tell me what you think!
Also, a word on tomato product. Growing up, my mother always used canned whole tomatoes in her sauce. I prefer strained tomatoes because I believe that a smoother sauce clings to pasta and meatballs better.
I am also VERY brand loyal. I only use Pomi brand tomatoes. I was introduced to them in culinary school, and I will never go back to another brand. Pomi tomatoes are the least acidic tomatoes I have ever tried and have the most consistent flavor. They contain no salt, no citric acid, and because they come in a box, they do not have a metallic taste.
1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced or sliced thinly
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp grapeseed or other neutral oil (You could use olive oil, but if you do, heat it over medium heat. Olive oil has a low smoking point and the flavor changes when used in high heat cooking.)
- Over medium high heat, heat oil in a 4 qt stock pot (larger if you plan on adding meatballs into sauce later) until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, 1/4 tsp Kosher salt, and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned at edges, about 10 minutes.
- Add tomato, basil, oregano, 1 tsp Kosher salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar to sauce. Stir to incorporate. Cover and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer sauce, with the lid on, but slightly tilted, for at least one hour and up to 4. Stir occasionally to endure that sauce doesn’t stick to bottom of pot.