DI LILLO FAMILY CLASSIC SUGO
Updated: May 27, 2019
Tomato sauce, or "sugo" as it's known in an Italian household, is a staple in so many dishes, and the centre piece of Sunday lunch. If a tomato sauce is good enough, it can be enjoyed all by itself. I always say that if I had to choose one meal to eat for the rest of my life, it would be sugo with toasted Italian bread.
Every August/September, it's the time of year for Italians to make their yearly supply of sugo. Usually the grandparents pick a Saturday and announce to everyone "This is the day!" and you just have to be there. When "the day" comes, you wake up before it's light outside, meet in the garage, and everyone get's their place in the assembly line. The jobs/stations are:
Washing of the tomatoes.
Supervising the boiling process.
Passing the tomatoes through the tomato purée machine.
Adding of the basil leaves to the mason jars. This was my job and it took a total of 10-minutes. After I was done, I had to sit in this chair that was comfortable in the 70s and watch for the entire day. No iPads or iPhones to look at, just my nonno in his under shirt saying "managiaaaa" everytime the sauce splattered on him.
Pouring of the puréed tomatoes into the mason jars.
This may all sound simple, but it's not, it's a huge process that takes an entire day and as many people as possible. As exasperating as it sounds, not everyone is lucky enough to grow up experiencing this beautiful tradition. That's why I have created three different scenarios with different steps on how to make your own tomato sauce. This is my mom's family's recipe. Some tomato sauce recipes call for sugar, but we don't use sugar because that's disgusting.
Scenario #1 - Your nonna provided the puréed tomatoes.
3-4 mason jars of tomato purée
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 cooking onion - diced
2 cloves of garlic - minced
A good pinch of dried oregano leaves
Chilli pepper flakes to your liking
Salt to your liking
Desired meat I.e. beef short ribs, Osso Buco, meat balls - This gives the sauce flavour.
In a large pot, sautee the onions and garlic for approximately 1-minute.
Place the meat in the pot and brown it. If you use meat balls they should already be fried or baked.
Add the tomato purée to the pot and add half a jar of water to loosen up the sauce.
Add the tomato paste and stir.
Add the dried oregano leaves, chilli pepper flakes and salt to your liking.
Bring the sauce to a boil, and then lower the heat and let it simmer for two hours, stirring it occasionally.
This will make an ample amount of sauce so that you can freeze some containers to use another day.
Scenario #2 - You want to be a Nonna and make a sauce from scratch.
Before you follow the above steps in Scenario #1 to cook the sauce, here is how you purée the tomatoes:
Boil however many tomatoes you want to use for about 2-3 minutes.
Strain the tomatoes.
Pass the tomatoes through a food mill which purées them and separates the skin and seeds. The following product by OXO is a great household product to make smaller batches (click here). My grandparents use a machine that is more industrial to make larger batches (click here).
Scenario #3 - You don't have a Nonna but you want to make a quick sauce.
It's simple, follow the exact same steps in Scenario #1, but you can get great tasting store bought tomato purée. Aurora is a great brand to use.