“The Family Recipe” Meaty Pasta Sauce

When I met my wife’s family over twelve years ago and tried their sauce recipe, I knew that I was marrying into the right family. It’s the best tomato based pasta sauce that I have ever eaten. It’s thick, rich and meaty. The ingredients are basic, its seasoned to perfection and cooked slowly. I fell in love with this dish years ago, its contributed to my joy of cooking and my appetite for pasta dishes.

This is one of those dishes that you start on a Saturday morning and the sweet aroma permeates the house all day long while it simmers on the stove. You can make large batches and freeze it or turn it into other meals like… Well I’m not going to tell you since that would be giving away next weeks post. To me and my family this sauce is comfort food, it brings back great memories of family meals of the past. I hope you will find that this recipe transforms your family as it has mine.

“The Family Recipe” 
What you will need

3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion Chopped
6 Cloves of Garlic Chopped
1.25 Lbs Ground Beef (90/10)
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
1 28oz Can of Tomato Sauce
1 28oz Can of Whole Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tbs Oregano
3 or 4 Leaves Fresh Basil Julienned (Sliced in strips)
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 Lb Dried Pasta (I like Spaghetti or Rotini)

In a thick bottomed pot add your olive oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is hot add your chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes. Move the onions to one side of the pot and add your garlic. Let the garlic cook for 1 – 2 minutes, but don’t let it brown (or it will become biter). Mix the onions and garlic togethers. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, add the oregano and mix together. Move your onions to one side and add the ground beef to the pot. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Break the ground beef apart with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. It is okay to mix the onions and garlic in with the ground beef. Once the ground beef is browned, add the tomatoes, sauce and paste. Mix and let the sauce simmer for 2o minutes over low heat. With a potato masher crush the whole tomatoes. Mash them until the sauce becomes smooth. Add the fresh basil. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 hours, mixing with a wooden spoon every 30 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta and enjoy what my family has enjoyed for half a century.


Restaurant Quality Pizza – Made at Home

About six years ago my wife and I moved from the Boston area to Texas. We left an area rich with great Italian food and… amazing pizza! We were both a little shocked to discover that the pizza in Texas, just isn’t that good. Sorry Houstonians! You may think your pizza is good, but clearly you have not eaten pizza in the North End of Boston. Great pizza is chewy and crispy with a perfect combination of flavorful cheese and tangy tomato. That great combination is difficult to find here in Texas.

Luckily I worked for several years as a restaurant manager in an Italian restaurant and have learned the finer art of pizza making. In my years working in the restaurant industry I have made thousands of pizzas. Since my options for finding good pizza in Houston were non existent, I decided to figure out how to make great restaurant quality pizza at home.

Over the last few years I have been perfecting my cheese combination and sauce recipe. I have experimented with different cooking techniques to produce a perfectly cooked pizza in my home oven, not some special pizza oven. The results have been sensational and I am excited to share them with you! This video and the recipes below are my secrets to making great pizza… at home.

Tools you will need -
– 1 or 2 Stoneware Pizza Stones – Available here
– Pizza Cutter – This is the one I use
– Pizza Peel – Available here
– Pizza Ladle / Spoodle – A ladle bent flat, see video – Order here

Place your pizza stone into your oven, and then preheat your oven to 500 degrees. It is critical that before turning your oven on, that you place your pizza stone into the oven, so that the temperature of both rises simultaneously. Once your oven reaches 500 degrees wait 10 – 15 minutes before starting, to ensure that your pizza stone comes to temperature. Now you are ready to start making pizza!

Dough -

If you have a good recipe for pizza dough feel free to make your own. Mario Batalli has a good recipe that you can find here. I prefer to purchase a few dough balls from a local pizza restaurant. They usually only charge me a few dollars for two or three dough balls and it makes the process a little easier. Ask the manager at your favorite local pizza shop if they will sell you large dough balls, in my experience most will not have a problem with it.

- Make sure that your dough temperature is at 60 degrees fahrenheit before pounding out your dough. If your dough is too cold you will end up with lots of bubbles when you cook the pizza.

{UPDATE} I get a lot of questions about making dough – Janae Monir has a great post about pizza dough on her food blog – Click here.

Pizza Sauce -

Enough for 4 large pizza’s

1 28 oz container Pomi Strained Tomatoes (You can substitute Hunt’s Tomato Sauce if Pomi is unavailable)
1 6 oz Can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste
½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. If you have time, let the sauce sit for at least an hour before making your pizza. You want all of the flavors to come together. You can even make the sauce a day ahead and store it in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

Cheese Combination -
I like the following combination, but feel free to experiment and try different cheeses.

- Sliced Provolone cheese (I like Sargento or Boar’s Head)
– Sliced or shredded mozzarella (Some mozzarella cheeses, especially the shredded version don’t have a lot of flavor)
– Shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
– Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Toppings???? Go crazy, have fun, be creative. Pizza is such a fun dinner to make at home, because the combinations of toppings are endless. Get your kids involved and make it a family adventure in the land of pizza making. (For more on toppings see one of my newer posts on pizza toppings)

If you have any questions please leave a comment below, I will make sure to answer. Have fun and enjoy making tasty pizza in the comfort of your own home!


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