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View Full Version : I need your Italian Grandma's Marinara Sauce Recipe



Shinob1
05-11-2012, 03:38 PM
So this weekend I want to try to endeavor on a new culinary adventure, Marinara Sauce.

My wife is a picky eater and Ravioli is one of her favorites. I don't have a way to make them by scratch, so I thought the next best thing was to make the sauce. I need a solid basic recipe that I can try this weekend.

Help? :D

WildBoar
05-11-2012, 04:25 PM
Okay, my 100% Italian grandmother's sauce was pretty good. Made from canned tomatoes, and mainly flavored w/ sausages and dried herbs/ powders. But my 100% Hungarian grandmother made better sauce, as it was also flavored w/ pork ribs :-) BUT, I'm afraid to say I have been able to improve upon their sauces a bit by adding some onion or mirepoix (sp?), fresh garlic, wine, etc.

Here is the basic sauce recipe they both used (and that I grew up making as taught by my mother):

- Brown sausages and meatballs in a heavy pot (7 quart size is good) and remove, leaving some of the oil/ fat.
- Add ~4 quarts of canned tomato puree (canned by relatives). If you do not have access to something like this, use cans of whole peeled tomatoes pureed in a blender.
- Add a tablespoon or so of tomato paste.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
- Add dried oregano, parsley and basil (~ 1 tablespoon each).
- Add garlic powder and onion powder (~ 1 teaspoon each).
- Once simmering, add the sausages and meatballs back in (and ribs, if you got 'em!).
- Simmer the f**k out of it, for at least 3 hours. Skim off fat if excessive (I prefer to stir it back in :O) This simmering is mainly to thicken the sauce.
- Let it sit until the next day. You did start this on Saturday, didn't you???
- Bring it back to a boil and lower to a simmer for another hour or so before serving.

Please bear in mind their recipes were developed at a time when it was difficult getting the fresh ingredients we take for granted today. Think 1940s, war-time... But it stuck with them, and was passed down to the next generation. Here is my typical sauce:

- Brown sausages and meatballs in a heavy pot (7 quart size is good) and remove, leaving some of the oil/ fat.
- Saute a diced onion, or go all-out with a mirepoix, using a fine dice for the carrots, onions and celery. I tend to go with ~1/2 cup onion and 1/4 cup each carrots and celery.
- **Optional** Near the end of the saute, add in ~1-1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste and get it carmalizing a little bit.
- Near the end of the saute add in a few cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Let cook for ~30 seconds, being careful not to let the garlic or pepper flakes burn.
- Add ~4 quarts of canned tomato puree (canned by relatives). If you do not have access to something like this, use cans of whole peeled tomatoes pureed in a blender.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
- Add dried oregano, parsley and basil (~ 1 tablespoon each). Can also go for fresh instead; if so, save them for the last half hour of cooking.
- Once simmering, add the sausages and meatballs back in (and ribs, if you got 'em!).
- Simmer the f**k out of it, for at least 3 hours. Skim off fat if excessive (I prefer to stir it back in :O) This simmering is mainly to thicken the sauce.
- Let it sit until the next day. You did start this on Saturday, didn't you???
- Bring it back to a boil and lower to a simmer for another hour or so before serving. Add in ~3/4 cup of red wine for the last half hour of cooking.

Both versions produce a pretty heavy sauce that is very flavorful (thanks to the pork products). It may be a bit too much for some lighter pastas, although it's the only kind of pasta sauce I knew for the first 20 years of my life so I did not know any better :cool2:

Shinob1
05-11-2012, 04:29 PM
http://i.imgur.com/EilpX.jpg

WildBoar
05-11-2012, 04:35 PM
haha, thanks. BTW, don't forget the "taste/ season/ taste/ reseason", as our tastes likely vary, and I'm guestimating on some of it. But a little more or less dried parsely is not going to make or break things. Also, I just did a quick edit to add in dried basil, plus a note about being able to go with fresh herbs if you defer until the last ~30 minutes of cooking.

heirkb
05-11-2012, 04:44 PM
I would suggest searching "Marcella Hazan tomato sauce" on google. It's a really awesome and easy sauce.

SpikeC
05-11-2012, 05:08 PM
I do Marcella's Bolognese evey now and again, it is quite good! I do substitute pork for the beef, tho......

WildBoar
05-11-2012, 05:14 PM
C'mon now, he asked for marinara recipes, not bolognese! If you want to pull out the meat sauce recipes, I'm gonna have to trump w/ a recipe or two for cinghiale ragu :knight:

ajhuff
05-11-2012, 05:19 PM
<snip>

Please bear in mind their recipes were developed at a time when it was difficult getting the fresh ingredients we take for granted today. Think 1940s, war-time... But it stuck with them, and was passed down to the next generation.

<snip>


I've actually been working diligently over the years trying my best to work without fresh ingredients. Fresh herbs are almost non-existent at my grocery, except maybe parsley and sometimes cilantro. We do have those $5 packs with 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and such, but they are often browned and wilted and not worth the added cost. So I use a lot of dried herbs.

-AJ

AFKitchenknivesguy
05-11-2012, 05:22 PM
AJ,

Why don't you go to home depot and buy plants there? If it's a one and go, it's probably cheaper than the supermarket (and fresher), but you could also grow your own garden with minimal work/space, especially in a warm humid climate like Georgia.

ajhuff
05-11-2012, 05:51 PM
I have, but my thumb is not very green it seems. :D

-AJ

Shinob1
05-11-2012, 06:09 PM
C'mon now, he asked for marinara recipes, not bolognese! If you want to pull out the meat sauce recipes, I'm gonna have to trump w/ a recipe or two for cinghiale ragu :knight:

In your recipe you have the browning of sausages or meatballs. How is that different from a bolognese? Is it because you don't breakup the meat and just add them back in into the sauce whole?

mhlee
05-11-2012, 06:30 PM
Bolognese is very different. If you compare Marcella Hazan's recipe (as well as many others), you'll notice that a Bolognese does not have many herbs, has a high ratio of meat (not sausages or meatballs, but finelly chopped meat) to tomato, and often times includes milk, among other things.

ajhuff
05-11-2012, 06:36 PM
In your recipe you have the browning of sausages or meatballs. How is that different from a bolognese? Is it because you don't breakup the meat and just add them back in into the sauce whole?

Good question! I thought marinara meant meatless.

-AJ

add
05-11-2012, 06:50 PM
Here is another one::hungry:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/179-Tomato-Sauce

WildBoar
05-11-2012, 07:26 PM
In your recipe you have the browning of sausages or meatballs. How is that different from a bolognese? Is it because you don't breakup the meat and just add them back in into the sauce whole?Correct. And when you serve, you bring out the sausages and meatballs on their own platter, and put the tomato sauce onto the pasta.

Marinara sauce is meatless, but you can still flavor it by cooking meat in it.

cnochef
05-11-2012, 08:49 PM
Marinara sauce flavored with meat = "GRAVY"!!!

SameGuy
05-11-2012, 09:39 PM
To us, marinara is the same as Napoletana. In fact, in Italy nobody calls a sauce "marinara"; rather, a dish made with plain tomato sauce is usually "alla marinara." Essentially, it is a meatless, plain tomato sauce that is quick to make and can be used as a basis for hundreds of other recipes. It can be made with garlic or onions, or both. Most salse di pomodoro tend to omit the garlic -- which ends up being much more versatile for use in other dishes -- while most Napoletana recipes tend to favor garlic over onions. I make big batches of salsa di pomodoro and freeze them in smaller containers, and when a recipe calls for a more Napoletana-style tomato base I sweat garlic in olive oil before adding the tomato sauce base. The key to a good tomato sauce umami is to cook for as short a time as possible, to minimize acidity.

For a "dinner-for-two" basic tomato sauce that works really well on most types of pasta, you can use either canned Italian plum tomatoes (or San Marzanos) or the pureed version sold in quart glass bottles (often labeled "passata di pomodoro"). I use the bottled stuff to save a messy step. If you use the canned tomatoes you can use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce in the pot. Note the ingredients on the bottled stuff if you use it: some include basil while others are plain. Many also have salt, so you'll need to sample before seasoning.

3 Tbsp virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 bottle passata or 1-28 oz can of peeled plum tomatoes
Scant ½ glass dry red wine
3 or 4 basil leaves, or ½ tsp dried basil (see above)
Generous pinch of salt (see above)
Cracked black pepper
Sprig oregano (optional)
Sprig parsley, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil in a small sauciere or sauce pan over medium heat and add the onions. Reduce heat and sweat them until they are translucent, about three or four minutes. Add the tomato (use the blender at this point if using canned). Put the wine in the tomato bottle and swish around to get the rest of the puree out of it, and add it to the sauce pan. Raise the heat back to medium and stir; once it begins to bubble, drop the heat again to maintain a low simmer. Hopefully your salted pasta water (1½ Tbsp salt for 6 quarts water) is boiling by this point. Simmer the sauce for about five minutes, or only as long as the pasta needs to cook (unless working with fresh pasta or thin noodles). Drain the pasta before it is fully cooked (ever so slightly firmer than al dente), return it to the pot, add a knob of sweet butter, enough sauce to coat and return to the burner. Toss the pasta (if cooking cut or noodle pasta; stir stuffed pasta gently) until the sauce is bubbling again, maybe 30 seconds. Plate up by topping with more sauce, add freshly grated Reggiano to taste.

Mmmmmmmm.

Shinob1
05-12-2012, 04:18 PM
Here are some action shots. It just started simmering. How much should it simmer? I have the lid on and it is just barely bubbling.

I am going to let it go at least three hours before serving.

http://imgur.com/a/qp3bQ

SpikeC
05-12-2012, 06:21 PM
I would leave the lid off and just keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn't get too dry. 3 hours should be good.

Shinob1
05-12-2012, 07:03 PM
Wife was hungry so I had to stop a little early, but it turned out great!

http://i.imgur.com/OUgNc.jpg

WildBoar
05-12-2012, 07:18 PM
Nice! Man, I really gotta make a pot of spaghetti sauce now...

RRLOVER
05-12-2012, 07:29 PM
Looks Good!!....Next time try some short ribs in the gravy:thumbsup:

SameGuy
05-12-2012, 07:35 PM
Great looking sauce (and dish), but it's not a "marinara". :D

Shinob1
05-12-2012, 07:57 PM
So was this technically a gravy since I had meat in it? I have to say, the wife really liked this one! The sausage was so tender having been cooked in the sauce. I think tomorrow for Mothers Day I'm going to make the same thing for my Mom with the leftovers. Anything that hasn't been devoured will be taken for lunch. :D

SameGuy
05-12-2012, 08:38 PM
We just call it "meat sauce." But whatever you call it, you're making me HUNGRY! My dad used to call meat sauce with big "chunks" (like sausage, or cubed veal or beef) "ragł". But then again, he called meat sauce made with ground meat (usually a combo of beef, veal and pork) "bolognese". Real bolognese ragł is usually made with beef skirt and pancetta, and braised until it falls apart. The base is a small amount of sweated onion, carrot and celery, very finely chopped (or even grated ;)). Very little tomato is added, either paste or sauce. There are, of course, as many versions of bolognese as there are Italian grandmothers. :)

mr drinky
05-13-2012, 09:09 AM
Nice plate of food there. Made me hungry.

k.

SameGuy
05-13-2012, 11:21 AM
I know, eh? Stupid pre-beach-vacation diet.

cnochef
05-13-2012, 03:31 PM
Looks great! My three favorite food groups of meat,pasta and garlic toast are represented.


Wife was hungry so I had to stop a little early, but it turned out great!

http://i.imgur.com/OUgNc.jpg

Shinob1
05-13-2012, 08:25 PM
So I reheated some of the sauce and sausage today with some rav and it was even better! Mom loved it too. I'm going to freeze the rest of the sauce.

SpikeC
05-13-2012, 08:44 PM
It is always better the second day, which is what they all say because it is true! The elements need time to properly assimilate.

Shinob1
05-14-2012, 10:55 PM
So my wife and finally polished off the rest of the sausages and rav. You know something is good when you eat it three days in a row. :D