Sauce Talk 03

More discussions about Italian food and family. Good times at the table and in the kitchen.


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Anthony! I found your website about a month ago, and after reading the recipe and looking at the photos, my mouth was seriously watering! I put off making it though, because (as you know!) it’s a very time consuming recipe, and I have a 20 month old son and a just-turned-three year old son. I printed it and put it with my cookbooks and every time I got a book down, I’d see the recipe and think, “Nah, not this weekend. I don’t have the time!” I’d finally had enough of it and so I made the spaghetti sauce and meatballs (with the pork chops) yesterday. Three words for you–oh my God! I have to say that this is without a doubt the BEST spaghetti sauce I’ve ever had. It was WELL worth the time and effort it took to make it. Even my notoriously picky three year old ate his whole plate, the rest of his father’s plate, and even asked for thirds. It was crazy at my house last night for dinner! Plus, I made the whole recipe (instead of halving it, like I usually do with most recipes) and now I have two more meal’s worth of spaghetti sauce in my freezer! (The balls didn’t last though–they were all eaten last night. :-)) Thank you (and your grandmother!!) for sharing such a wonderful recipe. Next time I make this, I’m going to try to bracciole. I just ran out of time yesterday. ~ Emily!
Hi Emily, Thanks for the kind words about the recipe. I’m sure grandma Salerno would be proud that her recipe lives on. I can totally understand putting off the daunting task of tackling the whole meal. There is quite a bit of work involved for sure, thus the reason it comes out so fantastic! 🙂 Sounds like your three year old has good taste! When you make the braciole you will see that even more flavor is added to the sauce, it’s wonderful trust me! ~ Happy cooking and share the LOVE! ~ Ciao, ~8-) Anthony

Anthony! Bravo to you and your site. My nonna died at the age of 72 in 1966 when I was 12. I still remember her Sunday dinners with fond memories and smell the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen permeating the entire house. my father her son is 93 and mom is 83 both in good health and great cooks. mom is Irish so the story goes once married nonna took her to the kitchen every Sunday (Irish girl at the age of 19 can you imagine) until she was satisfied that she was ready to cook for her son. I learned at my parents side early pealing potatoes and carrots and grating cheese with raw knuckles to boot. the passion, history, and love you exhibit are touching. I too have attempted to pass this down to my 2 sons and daughter Michael, Anthony, and Gina Marie. they will never know the joy of having family from the old country. Mike!
Mike, The wonderful memories of spending time with my grandmother in her kitchen and as you say, the aroma permeating the entire house, this is why I have spent so much time on this website. These Italian-American traditions cannot be lost! People are forgetting how to slow cook and how to pour love into the food. So important! I learned so much about family and love in the kitchen and at the table. Families need to keep on cooking and spending time together. The kitchen and table are very important places for this to happen! In 1966 I was 2 years old not quite learning how to cook yet, but the aroma was there. Around 6 years old and up is when I was spending a lot of time at my grandma Salerno’s house learning about cooking, although mostly learning about love for cooking and love for family. It’s all tied together! Oh my that pour girl, 19 and being closely watched by nonna to make sure she was cooking correctly. Oh my.. Pressure! I can see it now, I nice little smack up side the head, no, no, you don’t do it like that….. 😉 So awesome that you are passing this down to your sons and daughter! So very important!!!! Teach them how to pour love into the cooking for the ones they love. It’s priceless! Not sure if you found it or not, but I made a video of me trying to teach my two sons and one of their friends how to make the sauce with all the meats! Not an easy task, you know this generations attentions spans have become shorter…. and shorter… but they must learn how to slow cook and pour love into the cooking! So important! The video is a bit long, (1-1/2 hours!), well here is a lot of detail to cover…. Check it: Teaching The Teenagers How To Make The Pasta Sauce With All The Meats. Ciao, Anthony

Hi Anthony! I just read your spaghetti sauce recipe. It is almost identical to the way my mom made hers. She learned it from my father’s boss’s mother, Mrs. Marchelli who was born in Italy. My mom used the pork chops as well. The 2 things she did that are different are: she threw in a handful of raisins instead of sugar and she used Cheezit crackers and minced onion in her meatballs. Best meatballs I ever had. The world is a better place with food like this. Thanks! ~ Jeff
Hey Jeff, You are so right, this style of cooking brings much joy!!! 🙂 I recently discovered from a serious food conversation I had with my Mom that my grandmother used to add Salt Pork to the Braciole and then baron the braciole and meatballs in the salt pork fat…. MAN!! If I only knew? So many deep dark secrets you have to pull out of the family. Geeesh! This past weekend I made the whole shebang but use the salt pork this time! Whoa! What a great addition, so much more flavor 🙂 Now I KNOW I have nailed the recipe down exactly as my grandmother made and she learned from her mom and grandmother, both from Italy. Such great stuff! I took photos of the whole salt pork method and will have it up on the site soon. Happy cooking! ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! My name is Lori. I am full italian. I am looking into bottling tomato sauce. My grandfather had a restaurant years ago and we had a line of cooks in the family. my grandpa, my dad ,my brother, and i love to cook. My papa taught us how to cook his sauce and we’ve used the same recipe for years. I wanted to make it and jar it and start off maybe at the local flea market selling it ad seeing how that goes. I was reading a web site of how to can it and using a pressure cooker to boil the jars with the sauce in them and all that. i guess i was just looking for some insight and how you got started. i wanted to know how long is the shelf life because you know how after a week or so it starts to mold. will that happen in the jars? i heard of adding lemon juice so that doesn’t happen but i’m not sure. I was looking at your recipe and ours is very similar. Theres nothing better than homemade sauce. If you have some time, please write me and let me know your opinions. Thank You! ~ Lori
Lori, Sorry, just now getting back to you. I was on vacation in Florida for Christmas, wow! Great time! Well, I have never tried to jar the sauce, I always freeze what little is leftover. I have tried to jar fresh tomatoes, but UGH! So much work! I gave up on jarring anything after my first attempt. So, sorry, can’t help there. Freezing is easy, jarring is a bit tricky…. I wish you look in your venture.. However, this website just might help you out (How to make spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes) 🙂 It seems to me that the person of whom created this page knows what he/she is talking about. ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! Pancetta…. !! I am always looking around for new gravy recipes and for little twists to throw into my own recipe. Much of the info and tips on your page are things I always practice (like soaking the garlic for instance). There is one little twist that I am not sure if you have tried, but works wonders in my gravy. I dice some pancetta (about a quarter cup for a recipe your size) and fry that to a golden brown. I then place it on a brown paper bag to remove the excess oil while I let my garlic soak in the olive oil. After that I heat the oil/garlic mixture for a few minutes on medium low, then add my onion pancetta and so on and so forth. It adds another level of flavor to the gravy along with some added texture. I am not sure if you have tried that or not, but it’s very good. Also, in my house the Sausage, Meatballs and Braciole are a must. I call it the holy trinity of Italian meats. 😀 Another twist you may want to check out, is sometimes instead of using grated Parmesan (has to be parmigiano reggiano BTW) in my Braciole’s, I will use thinly sliced pieces of sharp provolone. It adds a little zing to the Braciole. I hope you enjoy my little twists. Of course you may have tried them before, or simply wont. Either way it was fun to come across your page, and I have to tell you the step by step pics of sausage cooking was a trip. I know a couple people who I will forward that to. I’ve bitten into a few Sausages in my lifetime that were charred on the outside and half raw in the center. Grazie ancora! ~ Matt
Matt, Oh man!!!! Your little twists sound awesome! I have not tried this before. I love Pancetta, Italian bacon, nothing like it in the world! :-). You know, I keep hearing people talk about adding eggs to their Braciole, this was just not done in our family. Grandma Salerno would have nothing to do with that. I’m thinking it’s a regional thing. What part of Italy grandparents are from and so on. I bet the Pancetta does add some awesome flavor to the sauce. Man! I’m getting very hungry just thinking about this. Sausage, Meatballs and Braciole … Yes, the holy trinity. I know it as this as well 😉 I am definitely going to try our your suggestions. Thanks for sharing! Pancetta is hard to get were I live but there is always the wonderful internet!!! Some very yummy stuff here!!! Pancetta they have 🙂 Thanks so much for the Braciole tips! Ciao, ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! I just started making my own sauce and I like to make my sauce with puree and some paste (along with the other usual ingredients) my question to you is… do you get the “raw-tasting tomato taste” out of the sauce……… I’ve cooked it a couple of hours and even put in some homemade meatballs, but it still has that “hasn’t cooked long enough” taste! ~ Kristen
Kristen, Hi, well I don’ know of all the details of how you are cooking your sauce. All said and done you should be cooking the sauce for about 4 hours or so. Have you tried my recipe as written? I have never experienced a raw-tasting tomato taste with my sauce. It all has to do with the amount of time you cook the sauce and what goes in it of course 🙂 The meat cooking in the sauce adds tons of flavor, it’s a very important addition to the sauce and it’s not just thrown in so you can have some nice meat with the sauce. It’s actually a very important ingredient to the overall flavor of the sauce as well as the spices you add. Hope this helps 🙂 ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! I read your recipe for your sauce and found it very helpful. One of the things that I do do different is add a little bit of hot sauce to my water for boiling the noodles, preferable the chineese kind so the vinager isn’t to strong, sounds crazy, but it gives the noodles extra zip, not much hot sauce though, about two drops try it and tell me what you think. ~Mary
Mary, YUM! This sounds just great! I will definitely give this a try. Can you send me a link to the specific hot sauce your referring to or a specific brand name? You know, this reminds me of a recipe I am trying to learn how to make, have had no actual luck yet though. About 20 years ago I lived in New Orleans, lived there for about 10 years. My brother was a cargo ship boarding agent and worked for the large ships that go up and down the Mississippi river that stopped in the new Orleans port. He was able to setup a nice on-ship dinner with the captain of a cargo ship from Italy. Our whole family was able to attend. It was amazing! It was an Italian ship and everyone on the ship spoke Italian. Oh my grandma Salerno went nuts! She ended up back in the kitchen with the chef speaking Italian and talking about food and Italy and well, she just had a blast. Anyway, one of the courses was just plain old spaghetti, but they had these fancy bottles on the table and inside them was this amazing olive oil that was very spicy hot! I have never been able to quite match the spiciness and amazing flavor. With just that spicy oil and fresh parm, oh Man! It was just fabulous! So I keep seeking out spicy Italian oil recipes and experimenting and will keep at it ’til I find it… Was also fun eating on a huge cargo ship in the captain’s quarter while floating in the Mississippi river 😉 Have a fantastic day!! ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your recipe. So much so that it is going to replace my recipe of twenty years. Not that mine was bad – your’s is just so much better. The secret to your recipe is the “roux.” I never thought in terms of making a roux when it came to making a great sauce. I have a couple observations and two questions.


  • In making my meatballs – instead of cooking them in oil I simply broiled them. It is easier, not as messy, and less time consuming.
  • Instead of adding water, I added home made chicken stock because I believe it adds a little more flavor to
  • the sauce. Anyway I have a load of it in my icebox.
  • I added a one teaspoon of fennel seeds as well.


  • If I want to double the recipe – is it simply a matter of just doubling the ingredients – or is there another secret.
  • In your recipe you recommend a thin spaghetti noodle.
  • Would you recommend Angel Hair noodles. I used linguine and it seemed to work out very well.

Anthony – again many thanks for your recipe. It is time consuming but worth every moment. Magnifico!!!! ~Mike
Mike, WoW! Your sauce with a 20 year history has been replaced with mine? I’m honored and definitely take that as a compliment! I like your recommendations/alterations. I sometimes use the fennel seeds as well. If I don’t make Italian sausage for the sauce then I add fennel seeds. I never used chicken broth in lieu of water, I just might have to try that out. Oh yes, the roux is very important indeed! I like to fry the meatballs because I like to sear them, the almost burnt parts actually add much flavor. Well, at least gets the flavor I remember as a kid because that’s how grandma Salerno did it.When I double the recipe I do everything exactly as it is spelled out in the recipe but just do it twice in two pots, then when both pots are done I combine both pots into one large pot and then cook a bit more while stirring the two different pots together. This has always yielded me the best results. Same with the meatballs and everything. If I am going to make the whole gamut, chops, balls, braciole, then I do all of that twice as well. Angel hair works well too. I just like the thin spaghetti the best. Hope I’ve answered your questions? Have an awesome day! ~ Ciao, ~8-) Anthony
Anthony, One more thing that I forgot to tell you and that is I always use kosher salt when salt is required. Finally, not only is your recipe better than mine – yours is a hell of a lot cheaper too. Mine required porcini mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, etc. All the best! ~Mike

Hi Anthony! I do not see a salad recipe to go with your great spaghetti/meatballs recipes!! Do you have a suggestion? I am making all of it and looking forward to it. This German girl will cook Italian yet. Oh, and the wine sounds fabulous. I will look for it. What about a Lambrusco? Too sweet or bubbly? Is the Chianti or Valpolicella a dry wine?? Anyway, I guess I am thinking of an Antipasto type salad. My special guest is Italian and loves to eat spaghetti. I want to impress him.. Ha! Have a great day. It’s snowing here. ! ~Jonna
Jonna, Hi, I’m jealous, I love snow and we have none! 😦 I’m in North Carolina, USA, where are you located? You must be much more North than I. I grew up in Massachusetts and I miss all the snow we used to get there.I seem to be missing a nice salad and antipasto salad recipes. I do have a nice antipasto I make, but it’s totally random every time I make, all depends on what I can get fresh at the grocery, however I always use a nice Genoa salami, provolone cheese, artichoke hearts, and fresh mozzarella cheese, then I get creative after that. I guess I’m going to have to write something down huh…The valapolicella is my absolute favorite and yes, that is a nice dry red. Red wine that is dry and full bodied is best with Italian in my humble opinion. Remember to pour in the love when your cooking, that’s where the flavor is 🙂 ~ Ciao, Anthony
Hey Athony! Thank you for the tips. I was thinking along the same lines for the salad. I bet when you put your mind to it, you’ll come up with something totally terrific and probably favored! Yes, I am north of you. Michigan to be exact. Traverse City. Northwest of Detroit, between the two bays. We had pretty nice weather up until a couple of weeks ago. last night and all day today as I am writing you, it has been snowing heavy. What they call Lake Effect. very, heavy, dense, wet snow. Last night it was windy too, so it made for white out conditions. I put my Harley away, sadly, and am now driving my truck. Looks like it will remain that way until spring. I look forward to trying your recipe and drinking some wine. Maybe I will start with drinking the wine and then cook. HA! If you ever want to try a nice German white wine, Try a Riesling. Yummy and crisp. Good with all. Especially chattering with friends while fixin appetizers. It was nice “talking” to you. Have a nice Christmas. When I can, I will send a photo or two to your guest book. Till then, I consider myself one already! Have a great rest of the day. ~ Jonna

Hi Anthony! I love your site and plan on making your spaghetti sauce this weekend. I have one question, tho. I want to use fresh homegrown Roma tomatoes for making the sauce. Homegrown tomatoes are soooooooooooo good that I thought it would make the sauce even better. Is there a way to incorporate fresh Roma tomatoes into your recipe? And, do you think that using fresh Roma tomatoes will really make a difference (make it even better)? Also, the pictures of your sauce make it look like it is a smooth sauce. I’ve noticed that some recipes recommend that you put the sauce in batches through a blender to make the sauce smoother. Does your recipe produce a smooth sauce and should I put it through a blender? Again, thanks for the wonderful recipes! ~ Jeannie
Jeannie, Yes, the fresh tomatoes to make a nice flavor, I can’t say that I actually like it better with the fresh tomatoes, but it’s just as good, just has a different flavor. What I recommend if you want to use fresh tomatoes is to start with making the sauce as spelled out in the recipe while replacing the can of diced tomatoes with your fresh tomatoes diced up nice and small. Although I did just notice in the recipe that I only call for (1) 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes, that is supposed to be (2) 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes. WhooOps Better fix that. It will come out just fine if you use only (1) as well. So you can use the equivalent of 32 oz of diced tomatoes utilizing you fresh Roma’s. Blender is not necessary. If you were going to make the entire sauce from only fresh tomatoes, then you would want to use a blender, this method of making sauce is very laborious, you have to give the tomatoes a hot bath then quickly throw them in water then peal off all the skin and try to get rid of all the seeds and so on etc.. A LOT of work. I will spell out how to do this one day, just have not had the time. I have made the sauce from scratch using only tomatoes, no store bought sauce or paste. Hope this helps, good luck this weekend with the recipe. Have fun and remember to pour the love into your cooking! It adds flavor, trust me :-)! ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! I have just completed my first attempt at your sauce recipe and it is the closest I’ve ever come to sauce perfection. I have tried to follow my father’s recipe which was his mother’s recipe and have not had any success with it. This is extremely important to me because Dad died in May and I miss his sauce nearly as much as I miss him. You really took some of the mystery out of the recipe which was similar to my family’s but their’s had no instructions on measuring and cooking times. Thank you so much for your efforts and generous posting. Now I think my keyboard smells a little like Grandma’s fingers. ~ Ted “Ingemi” Engime
Ted, Oh this is a wonderful email! I am so glad I could help you get to that sauce you remember. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your Dad. I know how important this is, I really do! The sauce has a direct connection to wonderful family memories that will never die and are always rekindled when your house starts to fill up with that smell, you know, that smell! You just can’t describe it and you can only recreate it with a whole day of cooking in the kitchen 🙂 I miss my grandmother dearly and every time I cook I am reminded of her love and charm. I’m happy to share this recipe with you. Have a great day! Happy cooking.! ~8-) Anthony

Hi Anthony! Your recipes look excellent and I’m looking forward to using them on Thursday 12/14. Can I make the sauce, in a slow cooker (after adding pork chops and all ingredients—including Italian sausage), leave at 8 a.m. add water at lunch and check on it at 4:45 p.m. when I get home? ~ Maria
Maria, Hi, well, I don’t recommend a slow cooker (crock-pot) method of making the sauce, only because I have never made the sauce this way, nor has my grandmother or my mom or any family member for that matter ;-), so I cannot guarantee the outcome. I was always taught that you had to cook the sauce in a large pot and constantly pay attention, stir, remove grease from time to time stir, drink some wine, stir, taste, add more seasonings, drink some more wine, taste again, steel a meatball and make sure they taste ok, sure to have some nice fresh bread handy while sampling the meatballs, have some more wine and stir the sauce some more etc.. and so on. Cook a real family Italian meal unattended just seems wrong, certainly something grandma Salerno would frown upon, certainly. Hope this helps, Have a fantastic day!! 🙂 ~8-) Anthony
Anthony, Thank you for your response. You’ve convinced me to ask for the day off tomorrow, watch the sauce, taste, eat bread… Have an excellent day. ~Maria

Hi Anthony! I found your website and just love it! I have been looking for this recipe for the anisette cookies for a long time now. My grandmother used to make them over the Christmas Holidays. Thank you so much! They are just so delicious! ~ Ranee
Ranee, An absolute Italian Christmas classic!!! When I was a kid, Christmas was the “Only” time these wonderful cookies showed up!… So I have kept up this tradition, only make them during Christmas time. Important grandma tip alert!!! I just learned from my Mom over Christmas. When my grandmother made these cookies they did not have “large eggs”. So when you get your eggs for the recipe, be sure you get the regular size, not the large ones. I need to get this tip up on the site. Happy cooking! ~Anthony

Hi Anthony! Can I freeze these Anisette cookies after baking? ~ Marianna
Mariana, Hi, you know… I’ve never tried that. I don’t see why not, but I’m not sure how they would taste after frozen and thawed. I’ve never had them around long enough to worry about freezing, they usually disappear very fast!!! 😉 If you do freeze them, let me know if it works out? I’ve never thought of doing that with cookies. Hmmm…. OK – just did some quick checking on this.. The answer seems to be you would not want to freeze Anisette cookies because of the icing, but it does seem if you don’t ice them you can….. Here are some cookie freezing tips. A lot of great cookie baking tips! ~Anthony

Hi Anthony! A tip from over the pond. When you want to remove oil from the top of the sauce or anything with a layer of oil on the top, lay a sheet of kitchen roll on it, let it fill up to the edges, then having a saucer handy, pinch it up with tongs onto the saucer and dispose of. I find that if you keep stirring the sauce after this you can get rid of as much oil as you want. Hope this helps! ~ Katie
Katie, Thanks for the tip. I have never heard of that. So you just lay the sheet right on top of the sauce? As it sits there access oil runs on to the sheet? So do you then peel up the edges to kind of cup the oil? Hmm… I think I need photos. Happy cooking and happy times! Anthony
Katie, You don’t need photos. All you do is turn off the stove, leave it to settle, the oil will rise to the top. Then take one or two sheets of kitchen roll and literally just lay it on top of the sauce. You will then notice that the oil just soaks right into the sheet. When you lift it up, all that drips off will be liquid. Honestly it works. I use it all the time. If you still see oil on the top, then just put another sheet flat on top of the sauce. Honest injun, it works!!!!! Thanks for the recipe for the meatballs and sauce. Made it tonight, it was yummy. Like the idea of the cajun additive. I sometimes, add a good slug of West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce, now that really gives it a good kick. Also, my triad, for my usual spag. bol. is Worcestshire Sauce, Soy Sauce and Mushroom Ketchup (this is just dark liquid). If you put in about say half a tablespoon of each to your sauce recipe it is really excellent. However, I don’t like too much salt in my cooking, and so if I am putting soy sauce in then I do not add any other salt. Good luck Anthony, be brave and let me know how you get on. Best wishes! ~Katie
Katie, Ok – thanks for the extra details. I’m going to try this out, the sheet that is. Interesting triad you have there… Worcestshire Sauce, Soy Sauce and Mushroom Ketchup.. wow! Mushroom Ketchup??? Never heard of that. Sound very interesting! Don’t know if I could ever venture out into using your three additives there. It would just stray too far from family tradition. Grandma Salerno would not approve I know 😉 Thanks again for the tips. Have an awesome day!! ~Anthony
Hey Anthony, Mushroom ketchup is made from roasted barley malt and mushrooms and is a recipe from 1830, probably came from India when the British Army was over there. Many of our recipes come from that time. It is very liquid (like brown water really) but is very tasty in recipes. It has a smell all of its own, difficult to describe, but very good and it is not sweet. I bet if you looked on a Brits Abroad essential food items website you could find it. Anyway, Anthony, it has been nice. Regards and good fortune! ~ Katie

Hi Anthony! I thought you might like an update. I made your lasagna recipe, but as I mentioned in the previous email, I wanted to have meat in it. I ran short on time for dinner, and used a can of Trader Joes Marinara Sauce, very good on it’s own. I realized I wasn’t going to have enough sauce, so I sent the hubby to the store to buy a jar of Prego with mushrooms. I had made your sauce recipe before and decided to add more oregano to the sauce (hey, it worked for yours!) I used a nice organic leaner hamburger in the sauce. I made it just as you described, layer by layer….It looked beautiful! Unfortunately, It tasted like…well, lets just say it wasn’t good. I didn’t have to spend too much money on it, and that was good, because it quickly found it’s way to the garbage bag. I’ve known this for a long time, but keep amazing myself, DON’T SCREW WITH THE TRIED AND TRUE! ? ~ Humbly, Gary Sloper
Hey Gary, Sometimes we have to learn the hard way 😉 Jar sauce is NOT the way to go, there must be much time, labor, sweat and love put into the whole process or you end up settling for a lot less. The “sauce” is a vital part of a good lasagna, many under estimate the power of da sauce when it comes to lasagna. So you ended up with a waste. A jar of Prego with mushrooms… Oh the horror! So you will make the sauce the proper way next time, kabish? Happy cooking and happy times. ~ Anthony

Hi Anthony! My wife’s mom was from the old world and has been unable to cook for years due to illness. I came across this recipe one day searching the net and found your recipe for Briciole. I tried it and my wife was in tears! She said it was just like her moms and that she could not believe a “Frenchy” like me could make such a wonderful dish! Thanks for the recipe! I make it again tonight for some guest and I hope they are as happy with it as we are.? ~ Kevin
Hey Gary, So glad it came out well for you. It’s hard work to make that recipe, but the end results are always worth the effort. Good luck with your guests. May it all come out just perfect! Happy times and share the LOVE! ~ Anthony

Anthony, When you make the braciole the night before, you said you recommend not making the meatballs at the same time. Do you make the sauce at night, and if so how do you organize the frying parts (ie, do you use half of your salt pork for the braciole at night, and the other half on the meatballs the next day, or save the grease)? If making sauce at night, do you also include the porkchop/sausage at that time? Thanks! I never got a recipe from my grandmother (don’t think she included prosciutto), so this is a nice approximation. When she made braciole, she always threw in 1-2 pieces of chicken as well as the rest – the more meats, the merrier in the pot! Thanks, Larry
Larry, So when I talk about making the Braciole the night before, I’m talking about preparing the braciole, i.e. pounding out the meat, adding all the filling and rolling them up. Then wrap them up and place them in the fridge uncooked. Then the next day when I am making the sauce and at the point of browning the Braciole and meatballs, I can just grab the pre-made Bracioles form the fridge. It just spreads out the work. If I am making the sauce the night before I try to time it out where I am finished with the sauce late at night around 11:00pm or so. Then turn off the stove but just leave the pot on the stove covered to cool off. Early in the morning I put the pot in the fridge. You will have to make a LOT of room in the fridge for this. Then when I am ready to start up everything for the meal I reheat the sauce. IT will take a good 30 to 45 minutes to reheat. You want to get the meat warm which takes a bit of time. The best results are to start the sauce early on the same day you are going to have the meal. Hope that helps. Anthony

Anthony, I’ve been using this recipe to make spaghetti sauce for the past eight years. I have so many fond spaghetti night memories with family and friends. I have not met one person that doesn’t love this sauce. Thank you so much for sharing! ps- I usually only make it with meatballs, but this weekend made it with Italian sausage as well. It was amazing… next time braciole too! Chad
Chad, Making the sauce for the past eight years? Awesome! 🙂 The sausage really ads a lot of flavor to the sauce. One thing I do if I am making the sauce with just meatballs is I add fennel seeds. I put about a teaspoon of fennel seeds into a zip lock and smash them a meat ponderer and add them to the sauce. Sausage has a lot of fennel seeds so if no sausage in the sauce, I add the seeds. Also, it’s important to remember that the more meat you put in the sauce the more grease you are going to have to let rise to the top and remove with a spoon. When I cook the sauce with meatballs, sausage and braciole I usually end up with two cups worth of grease removed from the sauce after 4 hours of cooking. Also, making the braciole is a lot of work and I recommend preparing/rolling up the braciole the day before, wrap in plastic wrap and set in fridge over night. Happy cooking! Anthony

Anthony!! I LOVE THIS RECIPE! This is the second time I’ve made it. I’m a Swede trying to cook authentic Italian so it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, and i’m also not a big tomato sauce person, but I appreciate challenges. I can’t stop eating this sauce and the meatballs are to die for. I don’t eat much pork so I haven’t tried the pork chops in it, but may try that next time. I also didn’t worry as much about measuring my herbs this time around as eyeballing it and going with my gut! It’s so good. Thank you for posting all the tips. It’s been a big hit in my family and friends. I even canned a few jars for some friends! Kate
Kate, yay! So glad your making the sauce! The more you make it the less and less you will measure. It’s like my grandma Salerno would say when you would ask her for some details for a recipe, she would say, “you put, you taste, you put some more, you just know when it’s ready 🙂 Mangia!

Anthony, I have made this several times. with just a few minor changes. I do let my garlic breath in the oil. And then cook it with the onions. I take another lg fry pan and brown my sausage and pork chops in the oil. I might use the salt pork this time. Take them out and add the paste. And basically deglaze my pan with some wine. Then add this to the garlic and my other tomato pureed products. I do use the Italian tomatoes, and Cento or some other Italian puree. But as you do, I always use the Hunts tomato sauce. It just has the right mild flavor and not pastie tasting. For the sausage I use the cheese and garlic Italian sausage. My family will not even sauce in restaurants. I double or triple your recipe and make it 3 or 4 times a year and freeze it. I am French Irish, but a dear friend who’s grandmother comes from Italy gave me her recipe and it was pretty much the same as yours but I tweaked it with some of your suggestions. I know not many Italians use peppers in their sauce but she did. Some sweet Italian and red. I have done it both ways. Your meatballs are also amazing. This is my stick to recipe. Thanks! Susan
Hi Susan, So glad you are taking the time to make sauce the right way with lots of love! I like the deglazing with wine addition. I might have to try that. Your right about the green peppers, never seen those used in any Italian sauce. Strange really, you think they would be in there, but I know my grandma Salerno never added peppers. I also agree with the Hunts. I have tried all kinds of tomato brands, many Italian ones as well, I just like the Hunt’s flavor and consistency, not sure why. I think maybe because my grandmother used Hunts and I grew up with that. Thanks for sharing and glad your making the sauce! Anthony

Anthony, I have to hand it to you Anthony. This mirrors a recipe in my family from the 50’s. Not sure about the wine but I have been making this sauce for years and it always tastes great. Now, some healthy people are advocating using honey. I really don’t like honey and will not buy a bottle for one recipe. My kids don’t understand my obsession with food since I don’t eat much but if you have a Chicken Piccata recipe out there for me, would sure appreciate seeing it. Chip
Chip, So actually this recipe is from 60’s. Well probably 50’s like you say. This is what I grew up eating. My grandmother was making this when I was a kid and I was born in 1964, so makes sense. But then, she was probably making this a lot longer before I was born, so 50’s yes 🙂 She always added the wine. I don’t have a Chicken Picatta recipe but recommend this one. Highly recommend that entire site as well. Some amazing recipes there. Ciao, Anthony

Anthony it’s good to see good Italian traditions still being upheld! It’s Sunday and I’m making gravy, so I decided to search the internet just to see how close the traditions and recipes are (you can always tell a recipe that’s been handed down with love). Our gravies are very similar… I use Hunts products now as well I feel like the tomatoes are never green (bitter). I use Maglio hot and sweet sausage, pork chops, meatballs, and I use NY strip steak if I don’t have time to make braciole. I season 1 or two thin steaks well Sear them and drop them in. I also use the cast iron pans they hold the flavors of the meat through each step. MUSIC!!! my man you hit the nail on the head with this step! I listen to Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin on Pandora, but I also really like Motown or Doo wop. Music that makes you think of love is always good, because you end up making love to the sauce all day!! LOL… I feel like the most important part of our traditions our the love and family that surround them. Ricotta pie…. Forget about it!! I can eat a whole one myself. Salute cent’ann pisan! Keep cooking. Steve
Steve, Sounds awesome! Yes, pouring the Love into the food is the common thread for sure. The music, the wine and family while cooking makes wonderful memories and good times!! So good! Anthony

Anthony, Hey! Irish-Italian heritage here, we were always on the search for an awesome sauce, and I am happy to say that my journey finally ended when I found your site a few years back. We only use canned sauce in an emergency any more. We actually tried to can this sauce, but it ended up like most stuff that is pressure canned – it tatsted like something Hormel made. 😦 Do you ever make this in large batches and freeze it? I’m wondering if that works better. We have friends coming over Saturday for dinner and they will have an opportunity to be wowed like we were the first time. Thanks, Antny!
Hi Steve, I am Irish-Italian as well. My Mom’s side was all Italian, grandparents on my mom’s side both from Italy. My dads side of the family is Irish/English, thus the last name of Baker. So glad you found my labor of love! I do not recommend jarring/canning this sauce recipe. However, it does freeze very well. I usually pour the sauce into small Tupperware containers and freeze extra for later. My normal leftover routine it to place 2 or 3 sausages and a meatball or two along with a bunch of sauce in a container then put it in the freezer for later. When ready to eat, I defrost in microwave and finish heating up in a pot long enough until the center of the meats are warm. Good stuff!, Anthony
Anthony, Now that I know that it freezes well, there will never be another sauce emergency in this house again! My mom’s side was Italian, and dad’s was Irish with an unsuspecting Welsh woman thrown into the mix. We’re all looking forward to this Saturday night, hopefully there’s some left for after Mass on Sunday! Thank you! Steve

Yo Ant, Just thought you’d like to know…salt pork, also called “fatback” is a major staple in African American soul food recipes. It is readily available in the South and large cities up north…also as has been mentioned in any and I think all Walmart. I have made your Braciole recipe MANY times and the effort ids definitely worth it. Thank you for sharing, Tony
Hey Tony, Yep, I have some family that still calls me Antny, The salt pork ads so much to the sauce!!! It was a missing ingredient for a long time until the secret came out one day in casual conversation with my mom. Grandma used WHAT when browning the meatballs? It was a revelation and was the last thing I needed to have my sauce tastes just like my grandma’s! …and yes, they do have it at Walmart but in strange locations. You have to ask several people until you find someone who knows what they’re talking about. I have not tried this yet, but next time I’m going to make the Braciole I’m going to add a very thing slice of prosciutto. Pound the meat out, add all the goodies on time, then add the slice of prosciutto then role it up. I hear it helps keep the inside moist and tasty. Gotta try this.

Anthony, This recipe is seriously old school. It reminds me of spaghetti dinners at the Catholic Church back home in Upstate NY. It is reminiscent of east coast Italian cooking I grew up with. I’d call it post-war Italian-American cooking 🙂 I made this recipe today with a few modifications:

  • I used an enamel dutch oven and deglazed the pot with the wine after adding the tomato paste. A similar technique is used in many french and braising recipes. The effect on the final product maybe slight, but it makes cleanup a bit easier.
  • I replaced the dried basil with fresh. It isn’t always available, but there was some gorgeous basil available at the local market today, so I bought some.
  • Salt pork isn’t always available in my area, so I used inexpensive bacon for similar results. I’ve had the same problem with some other traditional recipes. I think it is a result of the modern fear of fat in cooking, versus the old techniques of using what was available. With that said, I’ve seen lard become more available on the west coast recently.
  • The wheat bread in the meatballs is an interesting idea. I went with it. It worked out well.

I’m looking forward to some of your other recipes. It is definitely a blast from the past for me. hanks! Baus
Baus, I’ll take that as a major compliment! Thanks. This is exactly what I grew up with. Took me years to get it all nailed down to how my grandmother used to make it. She had nothing written down of course. I spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen as a kid and after she passed I learned a lot from my mom and uncle’s. Some important steps like the salt pork took years to figure out. The secrets came out during casual conversations with my mom and uncles. Slowly the secrets were revealed! The salt pork was that last step that absolutely nailed it! I can still find it here in North Carolina. Actually you can get it at Walmart. You have to ask around though, many do not know what it is and it’s in strange locations in the store. It’s also called fatback. Very important stuff to brown the meatballs in! I grew up in Springfield, MA and my grandmother lived in Worcester, MA. That is where a LOT of the amazing Italian cooking took place and where I initially learned that pouring lots of love into the cooking was the most important ingredient! Ciao, Anthony

Anthnoy, I have been making this recipe of yours for 10 years. My family really loves it, I wrote you about 10 years ago to let you know that my Aunt Rose who would never eat my sauce as it could never compare to her mothers from “napoli”, tried it after my Uncle Frank told her she had to, and she had three helpings!! I am the star!! My kids call this our “secret” sauce and they all help in the preparation. Thank you so much for keeping this up and online for so many to enjoy. Ciao 🙂 Philipo
Hi Philipo, I believe I remember the email you are referring to. Wow, 10 years. Time flies! So glad to hear you are still making the sauce. That is wonderful! I hope you are teaching your kids how to make the Sunday gravy with all the meats! So very important to pass this on to the next generations! I recently made a video of me teaching my teenage boys and their friend how to make the sauce and the meats. Check it out if you have some free time. It’s pretty long. 1-1/2 hours! Great fun making the video. Good times in the kitchen and at the table!
Teaching The Teenagers How To Make The Pasta Sauce With All The Meats Thanks for leaving a note, nice to hear from you again. Ciao, Anthony

Anthony……I have been waiting for a chance to devote an entire day to prepare your sauce. I have been studying the recipe for weeks and finally got the nerve up today to attempt it. My Italian mother is 89 years old and has been making sauce her entire life. I have not been able to duplicate it yet. Unfortunately she can’t give me step by step directions because the old-timers didn’t operate that way! Plus it seems like every time she explains it to me she adds a new ingredient. Not sure if that is intentional or just an honest mistake! Lol!! So, I was thrilled when I came across your recipe. I made it today and it was fantastic!! It’s actually similar to my mom’s sauce so she was thrilled when she tasted it. She loved it!! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain it the way you have. I am thrilled to be able to make this in the future. I also tried your cauliflower and chick peas. Loved that also. Keep up the great work! You should have your own show!! : )) Maryann
Maryann, YAY! So glad you tackled it. You did it the right way with studying the recipe before tackling. There are a lot of important steps you don’t want to miss. It has taking me literally years to nail down all the steps to making the sauce with all the meats like grandma did. I had the same problem with my grandmother not sharing all the details. I had to pull all the secret steps out from my mom and uncles. The final and last import step I found out during a casual conversation with my mother as the important bit about using salt pork. That was it. The was the final step that nailed it. Grandma’s sauce! 🙂 One of my favorite lines from my grandmothers written recipes was “Cook until done”. That’s it. No oven temp, no cook time, just, cook until done. This leads to a LOT of trial and error. But the process of figuring this all out has been a joy! Happy to share with you and very happy you can now cook this sauce. Don’t forget to pour in a lot of love while cooling! More recipes to come as I find the time… Anthony

Anthony, I must tell you that this is the BEST Italian sauce EVER! I have made the spaghetti and meatballs, but what is the best is that I use the sauce for my lasagna. Everybody has raved about it including the ones who say they make the best! Mine wins out – well its the sauce that does it. Of course its the Italian music that infuses it with more love. I learned long ago of making the sauce from scratch from an NYC Italian…but have to say this recipe out does that one. Grazie…. Diane
Hi Diane, Oh you are so right. A good sauce is crucial for a good lasagna for sure! Happy to share my labor of love with you. Also very happy to hear my grandma Salerno’s sauce lives on. It takes a lot of love to make this sauce with all the meats, nice to see you are not afraid to cook all day. It’s all so worth the effort! Ciao, Anthony

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