This classic red sauce recipe is divine at any time of the year, but shows off its absolute best when made with fresh paste tomatoes and herbs from the garden or the farmers market. It freezes like a dream, so feel free to make it up now while the ingredients are fresh and then package it in appropriately sized freezer containers for that first cold, nasty day when a steaming bowl of pasta will make everything ok. Vegetarians can obviously leave out the beef, but it makes a significant difference in this recipe. The sauce goes from nice to spectacular. Growing up this was always referred to as “Real Spaghetti”. We would ask for it instead of sauce from a jar.
- 3-4 cans tomato pureé OR equivalent amount of fresh, skinned, crushed tomatoes (see note)
- 1-2 cans tomato Italian spiced tomato paste (as needed to obtain desired thickness)
- ≈ 2 lbs bone-in beef short ribs (the bones are critical here…ask your butcher if you don’t see them)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 large bay leaves
- 1-1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano OR 3 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon basil OR 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesano-reggiano cheese (the best you can afford)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Sprinkle short ribs with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat olive oil in bottom of heavy large sauce pan, seal/brown outside of short ribs to seal in juices (not necessary to cook through at this point) – drain out oil before adding remaining ingredients (all but tomato paste and FRESH herbs). Bring just up to boil, then turn down heat, partially cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Half hour before serving, check thickness of sauce and add paste if necessary to achieve desired thickness. Check spices and adjust as necessary, if using fresh herbs you can add them now. If sauce is too acidic you can add EITHER a pinch of sugar OR 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla. Remove bay leaves before serving with desired sized spaghetti noodles, meatballs, raviolis, lasagna, whatever. Each 1/2 cup serving of just sauce is 2 pts.
Note: If you are doing this with fresh tomatoes (which I highly recommend) there are a couple of methods for the skinning, seeding, etc. You can use a food mill, which does all the work for you. Or, you can do what I do. First I bring a large soup pot of water to boil and take a large glass bowl and fill it with ice water. Then I take a paring knife and cut a little X into the bottom end of the tomatoes. Then I drop them into the boiling water for about 60 seconds. Remove quickly and put in a boil of ice water. The skins will slip right off, you can use the flaps from the X you carved to get them started. I then chop and seed them by hand because I don’t care about precision in this step. If I get some seeds in my sauce, who cares? And by the way…this method for skinning also works beautifully with peaches.