I'm sure most Italians have a good sauce recipe handed down through the generations and my family is no exception. The traditional way I learned it is to brown neck bones, pig's feet and sausage, then add them to the sauce. I do make it this way (minus the pig's feet, I never did develop a love for those!) from time to time. But mostly I make it the way I am posting about today.
Start with a pound of bulk Italian sausage. If you can't find bulk, buy links and just remove the sausage from the casings. With about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan at medium high heat, add the sausage and crumble.
When it's just starting to brown, add one chopped onion (should be medium to large - if small, use two) and five cloves of chopped garlic. Oh relax, this is a big pot of sauce, 5 cloves isn't that much! Hell I use more than that usually.
Let this all cook together for about five minutes and then add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of red wine. Stir it up and let the wine pick up all the flavor off the bottom of the pan. Let this cook for about another five minutes. Now it's time to add the tomatoes. I use three 6 oz. cans of tomato paste and two 28 oz. cans of tomato puree. For each can of tomato paste you will add three cans of water. So that is nine (6 oz) cans of water. We do it this way so we can clean out as much of the tomato paste out of the can as possible. Then after you add the tomato puree, add a half a (28 oz) can of water each (again to clean out the can).
I guess it may sound convoluted this way, but this is the way I was taught and it works! Stir the sauce occasionally while the tomato paste melts down and so the sausage doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When it is all melted, add your seasonings. You can adjust these to your taste. I use a palmful of Italian seasoning (ends up being about 4 Tablespoons), half that amount of dried parsley, two bay leaves, two Tablespoons of salt and one Tablespoon of pepper. Stir that in. If you want to use fresh herbs, I would suggest you add them at the end of the cooking process or they will lose all their flavor.
When the sauce just comes to a boil, it's time for the secret ingredient. One teaspoon of baking soda. This cuts down on the acidity of the tomatoes. Take the baking soda and put it on your wooden spoon or whatever spoon you are stirring your sauce with. Dip the spoon into the sauce and immediately start to stir it around. The sauce is going to foam up some.
Now, I'm going to only say this once, and please if you decide not to take my advice, do not tell me about it. DO NOT PUT SUGAR IN MY SAUCE!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. This sauce does not need sugar. In fact, it's my humble opinion that no tomato sauce ever needs sugar. If you want the sauce sweeter, add more onion or add grated carrots. Nothing ruins a beautiful sauce more than sugar. I am very very passionate about this.
OK, feeling better now. Turn the temp down so the sauce is at a simmer. Take your lid and lay it on top the pot, you don't want to completely cover it. The lid should not be sealed, but should be partially open. Then let the beautiful pot of sauce cook for as long as you can stand it! I usually let mine cook for between four and five hours. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste. The beautiful aroma will drive you crazy, mark my words. So the day you make the sauce, make sure you have a good loaf of crusty Italian bread nearby. I'm sure you'll want to taste the sauce as it's cooking and see how the progress is, right? Take some of your crusty bread and dip it in the sauce to see how it is.
Once it's done, serve over pasta. Make a lasagna. Do whatever you want with it! You can even freeze it. Enjoy!