Stefanelli Family Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes on the Vine

1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, pork shoulder, ground veal or ground beef
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped garlic (2 cloves)
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes or 1 batch oven roasted tomatoes
1 T tomato paste (optional)
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
1/2 t salt
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil or 1 T fresh
4 - 5 fresh plum tomatoes chopped
1/2 lb mushroom stemmed and sliced
1 green pepper cored and cut in pieces

Heat oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add the meat and brown. Remove meat from pan and put aside. If you are using Italian sausage you can slice it. Reduce heat add garlic and crushed red pepper to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

If you are using roasted tomatoes, blend them with an immersion blender until they are pureed. If you are using San Marzano canned tomatoes, Crush them with your hands.

Add meat back to the pan. Add roasted tomatoes or crushed San Marzano tomatoes and tomato paste, wine, water, salt, oregano and basil and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Add chopped plum tomatoes, mushrooms and green pepper. Simmer, covered, for another hour until peppers and mushrooms are tender. Adjust seasoning.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Usually I wouldn't suggest buying ingredients from as far away as Naples, Italy. However, if you are not using your own roasted tomatoes, then the only ones worth using are those that are grown in the volcanic soil on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius (in my opinion). Seek them out, accept no substitute. It is worth it!

The best thing to do, of course, is to use roasted home-grown tomatoes. Here is a recipe: Roasted Tomatoes

Stefanelli is my Mother's maiden name. All of my family recipes come from her side of the family. My Grandmother's tomato sauce was different from my Mom's which is different from mine. My Mom and Grandmother both used a 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes instead of fresh Romas. I started adding the Romas because I prefer the fresh taste they add to the sauce. My Grandmother added carrots to sweeten the sauce, my Mom always used onions and garlic in her meat sauce. I prefer just garlic and a not so sweet sauce so I leave out the onion and carrots. It is up to you if you want to make changes according to your family's tastes.

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