Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sophia’s Slow-Simmered Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

I dedicate this recipe to the eternally beautiful Sophia Loren, who once said: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” Sophia and I have something in common … she, too, has a criminal past. Sophia once went to jail for not paying her taxes to Italy; in my post of June 12, I landed in the clink for publishing a purloined recipe I swore I would never, ever reveal! I’m going to hell in a grocery cart, and I know it.
Good spaghetti - the whole-wheat kind, of course! - calls for good spaghetti sauce. No, no, let me correct that! It calls for great spaghetti sauce! I’ve been in cucinas where the mustachioed cook (typically named Rosa or Mama Louisa) waddled from a kitchen in which great, steaming vats of tomato sauce simmered and bubbled and left me drooling with anticipation! And when that sauce finally arrived … well, I’m sorry to say it wasn’t nearly as good as this one!
The secret of this fine tomato sauce lies in its slow simmering. This excellent recipe makes plenty; I often freeze it for “next time.” I’ve been using this recipe since 1976, when I was a babe in swaddling clothes. The author’s probably dead! The copyright has probably expired! I'm claiming it as my own! Well, it isn't mine. The recipe originates with an 800-page Betty Crocker Cookbook I’ve had since the year “dot.” It’s a paperback, but I can’t even call it dog-earred. There’s no cover, the pages are ripped, and the thing is held together by two rubber bands. The original recipe is unexcitingly called “Italian Spaghetti,” so I've given it a sexier name in honor of the lovely and talented Sophia Loren.
Betty Crocker’s meatball recipe is the best I’ve ever tasted, so I’m also printing it. And now, I must dash into the kitchen to start and stir the sauce! 
Sophia’s Slow-Simmered Spaghetti Meat Sauce:
½ lb. extra-lean ground beef 
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about ½ c.) 
1 large green pepper, finely diced
2 whole garlic cloves, puréed
Two 15-oz. (443 mL each) cans tomato sauce (I used a large can; Ron recycled it before I could record its size!)
Two 12-oz. (354 mL each) cans tomato paste
One 7-½ oz. (221 mL) can pitted ripe olives, drained and sliced (see Note)
Two 1-½ oz. pkg. (43 g each) powdered Italian-style spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
3 c. water
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. leaf oregano
1 large bay leaf, crumbled
Spaghetti, as needed
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil (optional)
Scramble-fry ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic on medium-low heat until meat loses its pink color and onion becomes translucent. Stir in remaining ingredients except spaghetti and Parmesan cheese. Cover. Simmer on low heat 1-½ hr., stirring occasionally. Stir in Sophia’s Meatballs. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Serve with a generous grating of Parmesan and garnish with a sprig of basil.
Sophia’s Meatballs:
1-½ lb. ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ c.) 
¾ c. fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. snipped parsley (fresh is best, I think!)
1-½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
½ c. milk
Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Combine all ingredients except salad oil, mixing well. Shape into balls by the tablespoon. Bake 15 min. on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drain well and add to spaghetti during the final few minutes of cooking.

Assemble and prepare ingredients

Simmer the sauce slowly, allowing it to thicken

Add the pasta to boiling, salted water 

Add baked, drained meatballs just before done

A little Parmesan cheese ...

A glass of wine ... and Thou!

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