1.) When you get ready to cook the pasta (preferably a thin spaghetti) - make sure you add some salt to the water prior to boiling. Do not add olive oil, this is a common practice, but it makes the pasta slippery and the sauce has a hard time sticking to the pasta when serving. However, if you do not add olive oil to the water, you need to make sure that you stir the pasta often when boiling so the noodles don't stick together.
2.) When the pasta is done. (Usually takes about 10 minutes) be sure to drain the pasta as well as you can, get all the liquid out possible. After draining the pasta, put the pasta in a nice large serving bowl, add a lot of sauce, mix up the pasta so there is sauce mixed in well with all the pasta, this will keep the pasta from sticking together in the bowl while you're trying to get everyone to stop talking and get to the table to eat.
3.) It is mandatory that you have garlic bread with this meal!
4.) This recipe makes a lot of sauce. About enough for 8 - 10 people with maybe a little left over, of course this all depends on the the appetite of your guests ;-) If there is any leftover please note that there is some mysterious thing about spaghetti sauce, it seems to get a lot better after it has been frozen. It make great leftovers!
I highly recommend this excellent article from Gourmet.com: 12 PASTA MYTHS DEBUNKEDBy Kemp Minifie - How to cook and serve pasta like a pro
There are some really great tips on past in this article. Check it out!
What to do with those leftovers!
One thing I get asked a lot is how to freeze the Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs leftovers. What I normally do is make a large pot that is always too much for the group I am serving so I often have many leftovers. I like to freeze my sauce in small one or two serving containers with one large family size container. I usually put enough sauce for two people in a small container with two meatballs in each container and then I will have one large container to thaw out for the family. It's nice to have the small containers ready to go when it's just me or the wife and I and not the whole family. Here is a photo of how I have prepared my leftover spaghetti sauce and meatballs. This is just prior to putting them into the freezer: (notice the horrible electric stove.. I so want to replace that with a new gas stove!)
What I do to thaw the Sauce and Meatballs after they have been frozen for a while just take out a container and defrost in microwave at defrost setting for meat. Halfway through I try to break it up a bit with a knife being careful not to break up the meatballs. After it's almost thawed out, I put it all in a small sauce pan and finish thawing out in the pan on low heat. Then serve. Quite yummy every time! There is this mysterious thing about Spaghetti Sauce, it's better as leftovers! Well, hope this helps. Happy cooking, happy times and share the LOVE!
Doubling the Sauce Recipe!
I get asked this one a lot too. What I have done that seems to work best is I do the whole deal double but in two separate pots and then I have a really large pot that I combine both batches into after both of the smaller pot are done. You may have to have a friend bring a pot or two to make this work. You can also just get a large pot and double everything but it does not come out as well. Proportionately with the meat and sauce and size of pot it just works out better making the recipe exactly as I have it called out and do that twice separately in two separate pots, that goes the same for the meat as well. you make the exact recipe twice at the same time, hope that makes since. Note: You can double the meatballs recipe and cook that with the one small pot which would give you 4 times the meatballs :-), if you do this though I recommend adding another can of tomato sauce and a bit more water). If you go the route of combining the two pots into a large pot, which is nice presentation by the way because you have a very large pot of sauce on the stove looking just wonderful, be careful with the meat. What I do is after both pots of sauce complete with meat are finished; I get the large pot ready, scoop in some sauce, and then scoop out the meat from both pots with a ladle and gently place them into the large sauce while scooping in more sauce along the way. When you have all the meat transferred into the large pot, then you can just pour what's left from the small pots into the large pots. Then I cook the large pot on low heat for a while. Gently mixing along the way, gotta respect the balls, you don't want them falling apart. About 15 - 20 minute of low heat and some stirring will allow for both the pots to mix well into one nice lovely large pot of grandma’s sauce ready to go! :-) This scenario would give you enough for about 20people.
OK, I just had a huge party of 30 that I made the sauce for. I made the Spaghetti Sauce, Meatballs and Braciole for 30 and it came out just great!!! I create a special page just to explain the details to make this happen. I paid attention this time to exactly what needs to happen to make this work in your home kitchen that has one stove with only 2 burners! I have a photo slideshow of the event as well as a short video of how I like to form the meatballs! Check it out the slideshow below:
A great question from a recent visitor that I get a lot... (Can I make the sauce the night before?)
I am having a Birthday Party for my husband this coming Saturday for approximately 14 people. I would love to make the sauce on Friday and refrigerate it to use on Saturday. I am cooking all of the meats mentioned (meatballs, pork chops, sausage and braciole). Can I cook the sauce on Friday to serve on Saturday without harming the taste?If so, do I keep all the meat in the sauce?? Thanks so much for your help and this recipe. I can not wait to make it!
OK, so to save a lot of time, I'm just going to place my response to Lisa right here because I get this question a lot and in the process of answering Lisa I shared some important information about serving the meal like grandma did, that I have not added to this site anywhere! So this seems like a go place to put it;
Oh yes, you can definitely make the sauce the night before. Actually, I have often done this and depending on the time (usually finish late at night), I sometimes leave the sauce pot, meat and all on the stove over night to cool off. Of course with the burner off. I have found myself making sauce until about 11:00 pm at night (or later). turn off burn, give it one last stir and cover the pot, let it sit over night and in the morning it's still warm! Then early in the morning I will put the pot in the fridge. Then about 2 hour prior to having the guests over I take the pot out of the fridge and start heating everything back up. The only downfall to this method is that you it takes a long to to get the meat warmed up again and you do not want to burn the sauce in the process. You will probably have to add a little water with the reheating so the sauce does not get too thick and you should reheat at a very low temperature, you "DO NOT" want to burn the sauce! You also want to be very careful with your stirring so as to not have your braciole fall apart in the sauce. If you used cooking string for the braciole and tied them up good you should be OK. The last 15 minutes or so you may want to crank up the heat to make sure the meat is warm. You just might have to sample a meatball to make sure the meat is warm enough... oh darn! ;-)
Then, when I am ready to serve, I carefully take all the meat out and put them on platters. Important note: not bowls, but platters. Large flat plates are best for serving the meat. If you use bowl your guests can tear apart the meatballs and braciole as they fish around in the bowl trying to get the meat. I like to have a couple large platters and have some tongs for serving so your guests can just pick out the meat they want. I also like to have about 3 gravy servers full of sauce. I like to have a nice fresh block of Parmesan with a hand grater. I also make one huge bowl of spaghetti, drain the pasta well and add to bowl and immediately mix in a bunch of sauce so the pasta does not stick. Then the head of the house serves the pasta onto the everyone's plate. They just keep passing plates and you fill them up with pasta. Then you make sure they get meat and add a lot of sauce and fresh parm on top of everything. Then repeat as necessary ;-) There, I just explain my family secrets. Guess I need to add that to the site.
Another great question from a recent visitor... (When do I add the Italian Sausage to the sauce?) Anthony,
I am getting ready to try your pasta sauce for the first time. I have a friend that indicates it is the best he has ever had. I have read the recipe/instructions several times to familiarize myself to make it a bit easier the first time. I see a call out for 1 lb of Italian sausage. However as many times as I have read the recipe/instructions I do not see where to add it in. Am I overlooking something? ~ Dave
Great! Glad your are going to tackle the sauce! You will be glad you did trust me and grandma would be very proud of you for attempting to cook sauce the correct way :-) After carefully looking through the recipe again, I do see I was a little vague on this point. Here it is in detail.
You add the Italian sausage to the sauce about the same time you put the meatballs in. Actually I usually cook the sausage the same time I am browning the meatballs. It takes a while for all the water to boil down in the sausage pan so the meatballs usually go in first and then I brown the sausage after the water has evaporated from the sausage pan and then add them into the sauce. So the sausages go in shortly after the meatballs go in. After reading through, I guess I might have to be more clear as to when the meatballs are going in as well. I think that is in there. Will have to read through carefully. After you have gone through the whole process of making the Italian Rue, adding all the diced tomatoes, spices and canned sauce and wine and sugar and have been stirring, that is when I start making the meatballs. So the meatballs can take a good 45 min. to make with making the meatball mix, forming the balls and browning the balls. So the initial sauce mixture is cooking for about 45 min. or so before the meatballs go in the sauce and then shortly after the the sausages.
Another great question from a recent visitor... (If you make a meat sauce, what kind of meat? How much meat and when do you add it to the sauce? )
If you add meat to your sauce how much do you add and what blend of meat do you use? Should I by like an 80/20 blend of meat or a bit leaner like 90/10. Sorry for all the questions. ~ Dave
No problem about the questions. I use 1 lb. of ground chuck. Brown it in a hot pan as spelled out in the recipe step by step photos. Then I add the browned ground meat to the sauce shortly after making the Italian rue as spelled out in the main recipe. Right after adding all the diced tomatoes, add the ground meat to the sauce, mix well, let it cook for a while and then onto adding the canned sauce as per main sauce recipe. In regards to the blend of meat, go for the 80/20. Lean meat is no good with a nice Italian sauce. You want the fat.
Important note if you are going to make the sauce with ALL the meats!
One secret I don't mention in the main recipe. If you are going to make the sauce with all the meats. i.e. ground meat for a meat sauce, pork chops, meatballs sausage and braciole or even all the meats mentioned without the braciole. I usually add just a bit more water and an extra can of sauce. You need a little bit more sauce to have room for all that yummy meat to simmer. The amount you add should go up equal to the amount of meat you add.
Important note about the Braciole: If you are going to make the sauce with Braciole then you are going to want to have the sauce simmering for at least 3-1/2 hours up to 4 hours. This is only required when you are making the Braciole. So when making the sauce with he Braciole you will need to add a couple extra small cans of water so the sauce can cook longer without getting to thick.
One more very important deep dark grandma secret about making the sauce with "all" the meats. You want to have some moments in the sauce cooking time where you are not stirring. You will have the heat turned down very low to simmer the sauce so the meat can have time to cook. You want to do this so you give the grease in the sauce time to rise to the top of the pot in little pools of grease. You will see this happening after about 10 - 15 minutes of simmering without stirring. When you see the pools of grease you need to remove the grease with a spoon. Dipping the bottom of the spoon slowly into the sauce and letting just the grease fill the spoon. Then dump the grease into a coffee cup and do it some more. You will do this several times throughout the cooking process. Right after you have removes as much grease as you can, stir the sauce again, but stir carefully, you have a lot of meat in there you do not want to fall apart. Then let it sit and simmer again for a while until you see more grease pools. Remove grease, stir the sauce again, etc...
Extra tips on cooking the sauce
1.) Important tip from a site visitor: "Do NOT wear a white shirt while making this recipe".
2.) Cook with gas heat if at all possible. Electric heat is "horrible" for cooking. There is a lot less heat control with electric heat. Also, be very careful when cooking on an electric stove with your sauce. I have burnt my sauce for a very important get together and was very bummed about it. Whatever temperature your used to using on gas heat is actually a lot lower on electric heat. Electric heat is a much hotter harsher heat. So for example, what I have learned is that if I usually simmer my sauce on a gas stove at a temperature setting of say, medium hi, that equates to about medium or lower on an electric stove. We just bought a new home and it has an electric stove. My first priority is to get a propane tank and replace that horrible electric stove with a nice gas one.
How to make the sauce with fresh Tomatoes?
I get this question a lot, so I felt this a good place to answer it :-) Personally I have not had good luck making my grandmom's sauce with fresh tomatoes. It's hard work using fresh tomatoes, but if you do it right it can be very good. The seeds are the problem. To many seeds can make your sauce bitter. There is a technique to preparing the fresh tomatoes to be used for the sauce, do that and then you can make my sauce the same way. All you have to do is use the fresh tomatoes in lieu of the canned diced tomatoes. However, I would still used the canned tomato puree. I recommend this website here for learning this technique: How to make and can homemade spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes AND meat - easy and illustrated! This site also shows you how to can the sauce as well. Pretty useful, although I have never canned my sauce. I just put it in Tupperware like I describe above.
Important note about making the sauce from fresh Tomatoes:
This is a video I recently finished making showing all the steps i take to can my garden tomatoes. I use the canned tomatoes to make the pasta sauce later on in the fall. Great to have some fresh canned tomatoes to work with when you make the sauce!
Check it out! How to Can Tomatoes (Preserve Garden Fresh Tomatoes)
Note: You will also find a lot of recipe secrets and tips in the sauce talk section of my site located here: Sauce Talk + Recipe Tips!