I’m so happy I’m marrying a half Italian man. I love pasta. It’s one of the number one things I cook on the blog. If I could eat pasta, rice, and cookies the rest of my life, I would be one content lady.
Since meeting Jason, holidays have been filled with lots and lots of homemade recipes that have been passed down. Last Christmas, we went to West Virginia where his mom’s (the Italian) side of the family always gets together because the grandparents are there. This was my first experience with REAL, homemade Italian food. I’ve never been to Italy and I never got invited over to an Italian’s house for dinner (haha). I seriously have been missing out on so much goodness. I’ve never ever had a homemade Italian meal before. To me, my own concoction of marinara sauce with meatballs or ground beef was good enough for me – better than canned Ragu and Prego, right? I bet the Italians are all shaking their heads right now.
Apparently, every Christmas and every get together, Jason’s grandmother makes her infamous pasta dish. It’s made with this homemade pasta sauce that simmers on the stove for hours. This pasta sauce is like liquid gold. It’s the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I’ve ever had in my entire life. This pasta sauce was actually from Jason’s great grandmother who came over from Italy. YOU KNOW it’s good when it’s from a legit Italian. Not some Chef Boyardee character. Did I just compare his great grandmother to Chef Boyardee?
So, one night, Jason had just come home from a weekend in West Virginia and he was telling me about how they made the pasta dish that weekend. I got a huge craving for it so Jason said he’d make it for me. Oh my lawd. I literally could’ve taken that entire pot of sauce and drank it like I was dehydrated.
The secret to this sauce is the simmering process. Low and slow, baby. That’s how all the flavors develop and marry one another in a sweet, luscious concoction.
If you want to taste what the Italians are so blessed with over in Italy, I suggest you give this pasta sauce a try. You won’t ever go back to your plain ‘ol marinara that you thought was good. This sauce here is genius. And genuine.
Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce
Yield: Almost two 16 oz. jars | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 2 hours or more
1 lb. 80/20 ground beef OR 90/10 ground beef
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water
1 24 oz. jar tomato puree
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of onion powder
Pinch of garlic powder
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large stockpot, saute garlic until soft and fragrant in 2 tbsp. of olive oil, about 2 minutes.
- Throw your meat in with the garlic and brown until meat has been thoroughly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the tomato paste, tomato puree, and seasoning, including the fresh basil. Stir to mix well. With the 6 oz. can from the tomato paste, fill that with water and pour it in the stockpot as well.
- Let mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2 or more hours (the longer the better, but minimum 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
- Serve hot over fresh pasta.
Note: a lot of people have asked about freezing this. I have not personally done this myself but I believe if you freeze this in an airtight container or a jar, it will be ok for up to 2 months. Do not freeze it immediately after making it. You’ll want it to cool to room temperature before putting the jar or container in the freezer to prevent cracking.
Note about making this in the crockpot: I’ve never made this in the crockpot before, however, I believe it’s pretty do-able. This is what I would do: brown your meat, put it in the insert of the crockpot, then add all the other ingredients, stir, cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1-2 hours.
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