Those who know me and my Italian family background, know that I was raised on lots of homemade Italian tomato sauce and pasta. Sunday was always macaroni at Ma’s house, we never called it pasta.
Even after my siblings and I were all married and not living at home, we always stopped back at my Ma’s house for Sunday macaroni with homemade Italian tomato sauce.
Needless to say, macaroni with homemade Italian tomato sauce is one of my favorite foods to this day, and I still cannot acquire a taste for jar sauces.
That’s not to say I never cook with jar sauce, because when I’m lazy or tired, I do. But it’s just not the same as homemade.
The thing about growing up in my family was that everyone learned how to cook and make homemade sauce, because sauce was the foundation of so many other meals like eggplant or lasagna.
And over the years, I would occasionally check in with one of my brothers or sister and ask about how I could make my sauce taste better.
You see, my mom never really had a recipe. You just had to watch her and listen to what she said. For instance, Saturday nights were always grill night, so if any pork chop or strip steak didn’t get eaten, into Sunday’s sauce it went.
So I learned that putting meat into your tomato sauce gives it great flavor, but I typically don’t have a left-over grilled steak hanging around, (and perhaps you don’t either).
That’s why I always put some hot Italian sausage into the tomato sauce and whip up a batch of meatballs, (which I apologize for not having the recipe up here yet).
However, let me tell you the two things that will give you an amazing tasting homemade Italian tomato sauce every time you make it.
First, always use a smoked ham hock for flavor. Second, simmer the sauce on low for at least four hours because the longer it cooks, the better it tastes. Now check out the recipe!
- 2 – Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 – lb. hot Italian sausage links
- ½ diced onion
- 3 cloves fresh garlic (peeled and cut in half)
- 1 Smoked ham hock (also called hickory hock)
- 3 Cups water
- ¼ Cup tomato paste
- 4 – 28 oz. Cans tomato puree
- ½ - Teaspoon crushed basil
- ½ - Teaspoon onion powder
- ½ - Teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ - Teaspoon black pepper
- Add salt to taste (½ - teaspoon at a time)
- 5 to 6 Fresh basil leaves
- 1 Splash of red wine
- 2 – dz. cooked meatballs (optional)
- 1 lb. pasta, any variety
- Put oil at bottom of stock pot and heat at medium.
- Add hot Italian sausage links and cook until slightly browned.
- Add diced onion and garlic cloves and continue cooking on low heat for about a minute.
- Add smoked ham hock and water to stock pot.
- Stir in tomato paste until it dissolves in the water.
- Pour in the 4 can of tomato puree.
- Add in crushed basil, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, fresh basil and salt.
- Add a splash of wine and stir in all seasonings.
- Bring sauce to a simmer and then put stove-top burner on low.
- Cook sauce on low heat for 4 hours, stirring every ½ hour and adding extra seasoning as needed.
- 1 hour into cooking, add in meatballs (if you have them), and continue cooking sauce until done.
- Boil pasta and mix with homemade sauce.
- If you want the sauce thicker, add a bit more tomato paste to it.
Now just mix that delicious sauce with your favorite pasta, top with grated cheese and some fresh cherry tomatoes, and dig in. Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this recipe and let me know if you have any questions.