Sunday, February 22, 2009


Rigatoni with Grammie's sauce, meatballs, and sausage (recipe in the comments)

Hot tea
Dark chocolate kisses with Creme de Menthe
M's maternal grandmother, Grammie, was Italian and she cooked like it. M has wonderful childhood memories of his grandmother's recipes. Sadly, I only ever met Grammie once and it wasn't for dinner. Fortunately, she did write some particularly special recipes down, including this pasta sauce and her lasagna. Neither of these are fancy recipes. They are very basic and, in that regard, a departure for the cooking style in our house. Regardless of the departure, these recipes are treasured and fantastic. The sauce makes about three meals for a small group. We usually do two pasta and sauce dinners and one lasagna. This, of course, will vary with the amount of sauce you use. I think both M and I are using more sauce and less pasta these days, so the whole thing seemsto go a bit less far. That said, it stocks your freezer with great food for later :) We made this with T for the first time today and it was fantastic. He ended up thinking the sauce was too spicy and it was spicier than usual. I think we'll use mild sausage next time.

Prep Notes
Difficulty: Moderate
Chopping: Nothing
Time: 45 minutes to prep and then 4-5 hours to cook
Make ahead: It's a must :)

J: "This is so good, I wish we had more of Grammie's recipes!"
M: "Passing the torch to another generation."


J said...

Grammie’s Sauce – M’s Grammie, with minor updates from M & J
Makes 3 dinners with sauce (we usually use 2 for pasta and one for lasagna)

Note: We usually make this with a half recipe of meatballs and add a pound of Italian sausage (mild may be best). Grammie suggested that you could also substitute/add pork chops or beef cut into large cubes.

2 – 2 ½ lbs ground beef (we typically use buffalo or very lean beef – I am sure Grammie did not)
2 eggs
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs (we use a panko type)
Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 T olive oil
1 12-oz can tomato paste
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 T dried oregano
1 t garlic powder
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 28-oz can tomato puree
2 cups water
Salt and pepper
Sugar (optional)

Combine all meatball ingredients and, using your hands, mix together well. Shape into meatballs.

Add oil to a very large stock pot (our 5 quart is VERY full at the end of this process) and heat. Add meat and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add both cans of tomato paste, oregano and garlic powder. Cook on medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Return the meatballs to the pan and add diced tomatoes, tomato puree, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high heat until it bubbles. Turn the heat down to maintain a low boil. Partially cover the pan (almost completely covered) and cook for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally. You may add some water during cooking, depending on how thick you like you sauce. Taste for seasoning and sugar. We usually add sugar (sometimes even more than ¼ cup), but it completely depends on the brand of tomatoes you use.

J said...

Lasagna – M’s Grammie
Makes one 9x13 lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
1 ½ lbs part-skim ricotta
2 eggs
2 T sugar
½ lb mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Spaghetti sauce (more than you think)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Break one of the lasagna noodles into smaller pieces to test for doneness. Cook the noodles and the broken pieces in a large pot of boiling water. Test the small pieces and drain when tender. Rinse well with cold water to separate noodles. You will only need 9, but I make extra in case they split.

While the noodles cook mix the ricotta, eggs, and sugar together.

Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a glass 9 x 13” pan. Cover with a single layer of noodles. Spread noodles with a thin layer of ricotta. Cover ricotta with slices of mozzarella. Spoon sauce over the mozzarella, spreading into a thin layer. Continue making layers (sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella) until you fill the pan, ending with sauce.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.