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meat sauce recipeI have a Nonnie, but this is not her meat sauce.  It is my son’s best friend’s Nonnie’s meat sauce.  Sort of.  I have to be honest with you, I am becoming a bore.  If you sit next to me at, say for instance, a Saturday basketball game, I am going to hound you about what you had for dinner last night, and what you are making over the rest of the weekend.  For the Nonnie in question, I really bug her about her cooking.  I want to be a good Italian mama.  The only problem is that I am not Italian.  My mother is not Italian.  And my grandmother is not Italian.  You learn to cook Italian food by watching Italians cook Italian food.  The next best thing for me is to hound someone else’s Italian grandmother while she is trying to watch her grandson play basketball.

The thing about how she cooks is that quantities come into question.  How much ground sirloin?  Enough.  How many carrots?  Until it looks right.  What kind of sausage?  Eh, whatever looks good at Corti Brothers.  How many cans of tomatoes?  It depends on the size of your pot.  After I came home from last week’s basketball game, I was confident that using her directions, I could make a good sauce.  And you know what?  I can.

baked bree

And because my Nonnie is equally adorable, here are my children and her in front of a gigantic hot dog.  Because isn’t that where all memories are made?

nonnies meat sauce recipe

1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin (I use grass fed)
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 large onion
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) tomato sauce
salt and pepper
flat leaf Italian parsley

nonnies meat sauce recipePut the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Drain and keep the mushroom liquid.

nonnies meat sauce recipeBrown the sirloin and sausage in a large pot with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

nonnies meat sauce recipeAdd the onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook until the vegetables soften.  About 5 minutes.

nonnies meat sauce recipeThis is what the mushrooms will look like when they are re-hydrated.  Chop them into chunks.

nonnies meat sauce recipeAdd the mushrooms, mushroom liquid, and garlic to the pot.  Cook for another 2 minutes.

nonnies meat sauce recipeAdd both cans of tomatoes.  Bring the sauce to a bubble.

nonnies meat sauce recipeTurn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.  I made this sauce the day before we were going to eat it.  I cooled it down and put it into 2 (1-quart) mason jars.  This sauce made enough for two dinners, so you might want to freeze half for another meal.

nonnies meat sauce recipeWhile my spaghetti was cooking, I heated the meat sauce in a large saute pan.  When the pasta was cooked al dente, I tossed it with the sauce in the pan.

nonnies meat sauce recipeLooks good.

nonnies meat sauce recipeGarnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped Italian parsley.

nonnies meat sauce recipeGrab a nice glass of red wine, some crusty bread, and say a toast for Italian grandmother’s everywhere. Because some crazy person is hounding them at a basketball game for their meat sauce recipe.

Nonnie’s Meat Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (I use grass fed)
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • flat leaf Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and keep the mushroom liquid.
  2. Brown the sirloin and sausage in a large pot with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables soften. About 5 minutes.
  4. This is what the mushrooms will look like when they are re-hydrated. Chop them into chunks.
  5. Add the mushrooms, mushroom liquid, and garlic to the pot. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add both cans of tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a bubble.
  7. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. I made this sauce the day before we were going to eat it. I cooled it down and put it into 2 (1-quart) mason jars. This sauce made enough for two dinners, so you might want to freeze half for another meal.
  8. While my spaghetti was cooking, I heated the meat sauce in a large saute pan. When the pasta was cooked al dente, I tossed it with the sauce in the pan.
  9. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped Italian parsley.
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26 Responses to Nonnie’s Meat Sauce

  1. Nina says:

    Bree, I love this post! Your sauce looks so delicious, makes me want to put a pot on right now! Gorgeous images, as always….have a great weekend!

  2. One of the reasons I started putting recipes up on my blog is that when faced with the question “How do you make ____?” I could never give instructions that didn’t use words like “enough” “some.” LOL

    This does sound like it would make a tasty sauce. I’m going to have to try using dried mushrooms in my own – I bet it adds a wonderful richness.
    Mama Kelly aka Jia recently posted..Vegetarian Taco Filling

    • bakedbree says:

      It is hard, but I also feel like it is a way to teach people to cook. To follow their taste buds and try new things. Cooking is about experimentation.

  3. Robin says:

    Hmmm, funny…I get the same responses from YOUR Nonnie whenever I ask for a recipe!

  4. Joanne says:

    I love hounding my nonna but now that her memory isn’t so great, it’s less fruitful than it once was. her answers were always very similar to the ones you got though…something along the lines of “just do what feels right”. Yeah. Italian cooking is not based on specifics, so it seems. Your sauce looks delicious though!
    Joanne recently posted..Wasabi and Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Brownies – Dessert Wars!

  5. This looks yummy! I love dried porcini mushrooms. I use them in a risotto that I make. They flavor whatever you use them in so wonderfully. Have a great weekend!
    Tanya at Ignite Your recently posted..Weekend Recipe- Country-style Barbeque Ribs

  6. glk says:

    Hey everyone, you can also post your delicious recipes on http://www.tasteimonials.com they are not as picky as tastespotting or foodgawker

  7. Lynne says:

    I would love to sit next to you at a game and would happily discuss what was cooked last night and what was in the works for the weekend….it really is all about the food!
    I am to be a grandmother twice this year and can’t wait to create beautiful food memories for my grandchildren when they will come to visit.
    Cooking with them and for them will be pure bliss :0)
    Of course there will be other things too…finger painting, games, stories and working in the garden, exploring playgrounds and listening to music but food is love and the family gathered around my table is the best expression of that.
    Blessings to you and your family!!

  8. Cora White says:

    You are too funny and now I am going to make this myself. Subbing my winter meat the ultimate free range organic product venison. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I might up some fat a bit though. Because this looks easy and I want to move to making more of my own tomato sauces.
    What would you freeze the extra portion in? Ziplock?
    Of course I have my own vacuum sealer

  9. [...] she is territorial or anything, it is just that she cannot tell me how she makes it.  Just like Nonnie’s Meat Sauce, it is a feel, smell, and taste thing.  The next time I go home, she and I are making it together [...]

  10. Melinda says:

    Try ground veal, beef, and pork. It’s what we Italians use!

  11. I so identify with this! However, in my case–I am part Italian. ;)

    To learn my Great Grandma’s Spaghetti Gravy recipe, I wasn’t allowed to just hear the ingredients and what to do, I had to, instead, be shown how to make it and write it down myself.

    There was no “half a cup” of this or that, it was being shown what went in and to figure out my own approximations.

  12. I heard about this dish very first time but its looking very delicious.
    Sam @ Weekend Getaways recently posted..Romantic Weekend Getaways

  13. [...] Cake on her Facebook page, it is her husband’s birthday cake request every year, and since I am a bore, I asked her for the recipe.  I am so glad that I did.  This cake is moist, chocolaty, and pretty [...]

  14. [...] Cake on her Facebook page, it is her husband’s birthday cake request every year, and since I am a bore, I asked her for the recipe.  I am so glad that I did.  This cake is moist, chocolaty, and pretty [...]

  15. [...] she is territorial or anything, it is just that she cannot tell me how she makes it.  Just like Nonnie’s Meat Sauce, it is a feel, smell, and taste thing.  The next time I go home, she and I are making it together [...]

  16. Curt says:

    Loved the picture of the kids next to Capital Dog, unfortunately he had to close last year, just couldn’t make it. Sad to see them go : (

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