I actually meant to post this back on Mother’s Day, but alas my Portland trip put the kibosh on that, so I’m doing it now.
I thought and thought and thought about what to do for my mom on Mother’s Day. You see, my mom is one of those people who really, physically, gets uncomfortable when you spend lots of money on her. She insists that she doesn’t want expensive gifts (even on Christmas!), expensive dates, anything. In fact, her request for Mother’s Day was to stay home over a big pot of pasta and watch the season finale of Once Upon a Time.
She eventually changed her mind and wanted pizza instead, but for the purposes of this post…the original plan was pasta. But, the point is, she much prefers quality time and small thoughtful gifts to anything big and lavish. By the way mom, if you’re reading: Now that I have a real job and am finally getting comfortable calling myself “adult,” you’re going to have to prepare for some real gifts sometime. Time for me to pay forward all of the lavish, amazing stuff you’ve done for me the last 23 years. Just saying.
But for this year, I thought: “What better way to celebrate my mom, than to bring back something from HER mom?”
Deep, right? I was a tiny bit proud of my brain for putting that together.
Serendipitously, one of the fantastic family recipes that I dug up in Louisiana while we were there for the funerals was for my grandmother’s homemade spaghetti sauce. The one recipe that is most often referenced over a steaming pot of Ragu when my mom says “I wish I could make sauce like Mimi used to make.”
I don’t know what it is about old recipes. Everyone always has that one recipe that they wished they could make exactly like their mom did, and can never get it exactly right. As if nostalgia is the critical ingredient that just can’t be bought.
But, I did try my very best; I donned my oven mitts and dug out the crock pot and got to work on (arguably) the most delicious Mother’s Day present ever. I deliberately did everything EXACTLY as the recipe stated, just as it was written by my grandmother years and years ago, no shortcuts, no substitutions. A thought: Maybe it tastes so good because it takes so damn long! 33 hours total before you can eat it!
Let me put it this way though…this sauce makes me want to try everything the old-fashioned way. This sauce makes me want to never waste money on Ragu ever again. THIS SAUCE. Is delicious. And here I am to share the recipe with you.
Mimi’s Real Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 1/2 Quarts Tomatoes (6 cups or 2 28oz Cans) I used San Marzano tomatoes. I hear they’re the best for making sauce and turned out great here.
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or sliced very thin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/8 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp basil
- 3 6oz cans tomato paste
- 3/4 cup sweet red wine I used Lambrusco, again, recommended.
Place tomatoes in food processor or blender and break up thoroughly. Add garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, basil and oregano. Simmer in crockpot for six hours (if you don’t have a crockpot you can simmer over low heat on the stove for half the time, stir occasionally). Combine tomato paste and wine. Add to mixture in crockpot. Simmer for three more hours. Refrigerate 24 hours (to blend favors) Meatballs may be added to spaghetti sauce and cooked one more hour.
My mom’s a vegetarian so I did not make the meatballs, but they are part of the recipe, so please feel free to try them out and let me know how they are!
- 1 lb hamburger
- 1 tbsp chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/8 cup sweet red wine (again, Lambrusco is great for this)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Mix all ingredients together. Shape into 24 balls (2 inches in diameter) and brown in 1/8 cup olive oil.
The recipe even says, and I quote “Guaranteed to please the most delicate palate!”
I did end up getting a pretty ecstatic phone call from my mom declaring that I’d nailed the famed sauce recipe, just like Mimi used to make. While flattering, I can’t possibly take that credit. There’s no way that I was the first person to actually get it “like mom used to make,” but if I was even close I consider it a success.
Question of the Day: What is YOUR favorite recipe that mom used to make? Do you still make it today?