I loved the idea of this contest, but I found it difficult to come up with just one recipe. I come from a family of really wonderful cooks. For us, sitting down to a meal is not just about eating to nourish our bodies, but food provides comfort, sustenance, and, most of all, love. The recipe that I finally decided to submit is one that I grew up eating, and throughout my childhood, was my favorite dish. I first tasted it in my great-grandmother's kitchen. She immigrated to America from Italy, and she was an extraordinary cook. I remember that she had a brick oven in her backyard, where she would make homemade pizza and bread. She would make ravioli on her kitchen table and roll the dough out with a broomstick handle. But the dish that she is really remembered for, by everyone in my family, is her Sunday sauce. This is the ragu that she made every Sunday morning before going to church. She would serve it in the afternoon as part of an elaborate Sunday dinner to her husband, children, and grandchildren. When my great-grandmother's son married a young Irish woman (my grandmother) she had to learn how to make this sauce. When my grandparents' son (my father) married my mother (who is of Mexican descent) my great-grandmother taught my mother how to make this sauce. Now I make it as well. But like all of the women in my family, I have slightly altered the ingredients and cooking techniques to make the sauce my own. But despite the changes I have made, I still consider this the sauce that I grew up eating. I now make this sauce for my own six-year-old daughter, and it is my hope that when she grows up, she will make it for her children and remember its roots. This is not week-day evening cooking, when dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes. If I want to make a pasta sauce on weekday evenings, I usually turn to a fresh pomodoro sauce or an aglio e olio sauce. No, this is a weekend sauce, ideally made on a Sunday, when the cook cannot be rushed. It takes time to roast the meats, simmer the sauce, and taste the ingredients as they come together. But it is the most rewarding dish thatI know how to make, and despite its simplicity, it always receives accolades.
Some cooking notes: What gives this sauce its incomparable flavor is the pork, so don't be tempted to substitute another ingredient. Go to a butcher shop and get homemade Italian sausages. I guarantee that you will taste the difference in the sauce. As for the bones, the best cut is neck bones, which is what my mother uses. However, I find these hard to source, so really any small pork bones will do. I have used spare ribs, pork side bones, and a farmer at my local greenmarket sells me pork soup bones. All have worked well. Do not discard the bones after you have made the sauce. They are wonderful to gnaw on. (In fact, the bones were my grandfather's, my mother's and my favorite parts of this dish to eat. We used to fight over who got to eat them!) As for the tomatoes, use really good quality tomatoes. You can definitely taste the difference. I like Muir Glen organic Roma tomatoes. Try to find a brand without a lot of added salt. And any sort of dried pasta will work with this dish, but I like a shape with some ridges and corners that the sauce can cling to. Penne Rigate or rigatoni are both good choices. My favorite pasta brands are Italian imports -- Latini and Rustichella D'Abruzzo. Once you have tasted pasta made from bronze casts, you will never go back to supermarket pastas. - cookinginvictoria —cookinginvictoria
We're suckers for an old school ragu that calls for actual bones, and the fact that this is an all-pork sauce really piqued our interest. Cookinginvictoria has composed a Sunday sauce worthy of passing on -- it's uncomplicated, and nothing is done without good reason. She roasts pork bones and both hot and sweet sausage before bathing them in tomatoes and aromatics and then lets everything bubble gently for several hours -- as cookinginvictoria writes, "honestly you cannot cook this sauce too much." The finished sauce is vibrant red, studded with chunks of sausage and flecked with lots of fresh parsley, an herb that is too often employed as a garnish and not for its clean, grassy flavor. You can pluck out the bones before serving, but we preferred to leave them in -- just make sure to warn your eaters! - A&M —The Editors