Mama’s Sauce

After 30 plus years, I finally decided to write down my mom’s recipe for sauce and meatballs.  Saying that may seem like a no brainer, but she measures nothing when it comes to these two things.   Back in April I painfully went through the process of documenting every spice, egg, bread crumb and can of tomato to get this done properly.  The day finally arrived to type it up and like all good cosmic jokes, the recipe was missing.  As I traced my steps back to the last time I had seen it,  painfully it dawned on me that I had thrown two big trash bags away of old magazines and papers.  Holy crap…it had to have accidentally gotten thrown in with them. So yes, I went dumpster diving two days later to retrieve it.

Friends let us just say this, I had no idea how many little bags of dog poop could accumulate in two days time. As I held back barfing and glaring stink eyes from motorists, (because yes I threw my garbage away in a public trash can on a main street) the lone bag was unearthed.  On a side note, this experience has given me a whole new appreciation for Freegans.  Even the used cat litter that I had pitched in with the old papers wasn’t going to distract me from my task at hand.  Ok, seriously folks, the f*%$^ing recipe wasn’t there.  I’m dying if I’m lying when I say there was cat litter jammed up under my fingernails.

I emailed my Mom in panic; her response and I quote, “type what you remember and I can double-check it”  Ok, seriously again folks…she didn’t even use punctuation when she sent this…  In response I said in shouty capital letters, “5 LBS. OF CHOPPED CHUCK, THAT’S IT!!!”  (Which by the way is a running joke in my family).

After an hour of mild hysteria and OCD washing of my hands and fingernails, I back tracked every place I went…so now the arc comes into the story at this point….I FOUND IT! Here’s the deal now people..after all that it took to get this frigging recipe, please make the best sauce and meatball recipe you will ever try and don’t you dare throw any of it in the garbage!  And note about the actual recipe..these are estimations because she ‘smells’ the meat to see if it is right.  Yeah, that’s what I am dealing with.



2 lbs of chopped chuck

2 lbs. of ground pork

~ 2 cups of bread crumbs

~ 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

4-5 garlic cloves; minced

1/2 bunch of parsley; minced

3 eggs

2 tsp. salt

2 tbs. dried oregano

pinch of pepper

Procedure: Mix all the ingredients together.  Smell. Brown up one as a sample and add anything else that is missing.  Smile…because none of us knows what that smell is and pray you got the measurements right.  In a preheated cast iron skillet passed on to you from your ancient Nona, brown all sides of every meatball.  When finished, add all the meatballs to the pasta sauce to cook for a few more hours.



4 cans of San Marzano plum whole tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic; crushed

1/2 bunch of parsley; chopped

2 tbs. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried basil

2 bay leaves

pinch of salt/pepper



Cover the bottom of a very large sauce pot with extra virgin olive oil.  On low heat, slightly brown the crushed garlic just enough to flavor the oil.  Place a strainer or food mill over the top of the pot and begin crushing up the tomatoes. When all the tomatoes are crushed, bring to a boil and then simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Then add in the remaining ingredients. Let simmer for an additional 4-5 hours until thickened.

I’ll have Mom double-check this recipe and see if she will provide feedback.  I’ll also pass along her personal phone number for any complaints.  I couldn’t decide what picture to add..the first or her saying “Recipe, who uses a recipe???” or the second one that says, “Good luck suckers with smelling those meatballs, mine always rock.”  Okay I decided to go with the third, which shows my mom’s love of having family and food around the table.  Love you Mom!!


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