My husband, Scott and I often look at each other and say, "How in the world did two schnucks like us, end up with such wonderful kids?"
I love my kids for a zillion reasons; they're sweet, kind, fun, funny and always have a word of encouragement to offer. I can also count on the fact that they'll ALWAYS tell me their truthful opinions, which I appreciate, because what they think means a lot to me. Sometimes though, I am a bit hardheaded, especially when it comes to culinary endeavors. I'm always thinking that I might just find something better ............. But I'll let my daughter Cait, explain this in her own words.
I'll make a huge pot of this marinara sauce once every six weeks or so, store it in the freezer and use it for all sorts of recipes. I've made a few changes over the years to make it more healthy, but not much, because it's one of those super simple, scrumptious recipes that you just can't mess up and it always gets rave reviews, regardless of the audience. Even my kids gobble it up. Enjoy!
I know Cait doesn't remember where this recipe originally came from, but I do! I was watching TV one day and one of the Rao brothers (from Rao's Italian Restaurant in New York City), was on The Food Network. He shared his mama's recipe for marinara sauce, the one they serve at their restaurant (which by the way, has a reputation for being one of the most difficult restaurants in the world to get a reservation at!). I tried it and loved it. Over the years, I've tweaked it a bit to suit our taste.
P.S. This sauce is wonderful for any Italian dish such eggplant parmesan, chicken marinara, etc. but I usually make it with these wonderful meatballs.
- 4 28- ounce can imported Italian plum tomatoes try to find San Marzano tomatoes, they're a bit more expensive but will make a HUGE difference*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound mild or sweet Italian sausage If you don't have a favorite, we love Johnsonville Italian Sausage.
- 6 tablespoons minced onion
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced.
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 leaves fresh basil leaves finely chopped
Drain tomatoes, reserving the juice. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes, gently breaking them into small pieces, removing and discarding the hard core from the stem end. (I actually use my stick blender for this or put in food processor and pulse a few times - you do want a little chunkiness left.) Also remove any skin or tough membranes. Set aside.
Heat oil in large, heavy duty sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add sausages and sauté until nice and brown on all sides. Remove sausages and drain on several thicknesses of paper towel. Set aside till cooled then refrigerate till later. Add onions to pot and saute for 5 minutes or until translucent and soft. Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and salt and saute for an additional 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes and reserved juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally or until sauce is thick and the aroma in your house is driving you crazy. Add sausages back into the sauce during the last half hour of simmering. You can slice them into 1-inch pieces or keep them whole and use them for a wonderful Italian sausage sandwich. Add fresh basil and remove from heat.
I usually slice the sausages into bitesize pieces and then make meatballs to go in this sauce and serve the sausages and meatballs together over pasta.
* If you have a Costco nearby, they have San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy for $3.99 for a 106-ounce can. This is a wonderful buy as these tomatoes can run as high as $3.99 for a 28-ounce can in a regular grocery store.
** At this point sauce can be served, refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for months. Sometimes we make the meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for the last hour. It's also wonderful for chicken marinara, lasagna, manicotti and all things Italian requiring a red sauce.