Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day = Sauce Day

Blech. It has been a lousy couple of days, blogworld. But -- you know what? Today ain't so lousy. I'm working from home, in my sweats, due to the latest round of blizzard conditions out there in Philly. I've got more to do today than I thought I would, but I've been very, very productive. And -- the best part about being home? I get some quality time with these guys:

That would be my favorite appliance ever: a 20-plus year old Sunbeam Hot Shot that I inherited from my parents. It boils about 16 ounces of water in, oh, 12 seconds. My only beef with it is that, while the capacity is about 16 ounces, the place to put the mug is too short for anything but one of my 8-ounce mugs. Which is way too small for tea. So, I end up sort of bailing it out into the bigger, much more suitable mug in the back there.

But anyway. Without further adieu, PhillyGirl makes sauce:*

*it's been brought to my attention by a number of people that "real Italians" call this "gravy" and not sauce. However, my "real Italian" grandmother never called it "gravy," and since she's the one actually FROM Italy, I feel like a serious poseur calling it "gravy." So I don't. It bugs me -- sort of like when people overpronounce the word "croissant" when they're not even remotely French and they're talking about something they got from Dunkin' Donuts. Also, this isn't my "real Italian" grandmother's recipe. It's a meat sauce which I picked up from my mother. Who is Irish.

Start with one big onion, the sweeter the better -- I like vidalias. Chop it up.

Sweat it out in a large skillet with some garlic and butter or olive oil -- I prefer just a tiiiiny bit of butter.

Once the onion starts to get soft, add ground beef -- something on the fattier side. This is about 1.8lbs of 85/15. Brown it with salt and pepper.

Key ingredients:

Mix both cans of tomato paste in with the ground beef as it continues to brown in the skillet, then transfer the whole mess to a stockpot:

Pour in the tomato puree. It's important that you get PUREE and not SAUCE -- I like to add my own spices and control the balance.

Season to taste. I like to use oregano, parsley, marjoram, garlic powder, and basil, with a dash of sugar to finish it off and counter the acidity of the tomatoes:

Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let everything simmer for 6-8 hours. After an hour I taste and adjust seasonings if necessary; stir every hour or so. While it's cooking, stare at your deck, which looks like this:

That's pretty much what it looks like today, too. It's about time for me to get back to work now. Despite the winter wonderland out there, I'm planning on hitting the gym tonight -- I've been at work late the past few nights and haven't been to the gym since SATURDAY, so I'm sort of chomping at the bit to get there. On the agenda is 30 minutes of cardio -- I'm hoping to run again -- and push.

Hope that everyone with a snow day is making the most of it!


  1. REAL Italians call it sauce. Gravy is completely an Italian American thing. In my house (I'm a first generation American) we always called it "sauce" or "meat sauce". The Italian word for sauce, "sugo", means sauce and is the type of sauce you made above. "Salsa", on the other hand, is our equivalent of tomato sauce.


  2. this sounds nearly exact to the sauce that my boyfriend makes for his lasagna...and his lasagna is the best I've ever had!