She was called Nonna, Grandma, and Essie, and while she wasn’t the Italian in the family, this is her sauce recipe. Bob makes it all the time and he says that one day while visiting his mom, he asked for the recipe. Estelle wrote it down and said that it was Tony’s mom’s recipe. (he thinks 😉 )Anna asked Bob to show her how to make the recipe and these are the pics from today’s cooking of Estelle’s Sauce! Thanks to Uncle Jim for the Eli Lilly paper for the recipe below. 😉
Saute the onions. While the recipe calls for meatballs, Bob used ground beef and Italian sausage.
Add the sauce, paste, and spices. Mix and let cook for several hours!
This recipe has morphed over time and I have no idea where it originated. I know my mom made meat loaf and so some of the ingredients and process probably came from her. I’ve had people who don’t like meat loaf tell me they liked mine.
In a big bowl I added 2 lbs of meat. You can use ground beef or chuck. I had a mix of beef and pork in these pictures. I’ve never tried ground turkey.
Add an egg for every pound of meat, so two eggs.
Add about 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. I don’t use store-bought crumbs because when I want to make meat loaf, I usually don’t have any fresh crumbs on hand. So I take about 4 slices of bread, cube them up, whir them in small batches in a blender, and then throw them in. If I’m feeling it, I’ll toast the crumbs in a pan on very low heat or put in a low oven. But many times I’ll throw them in fresh.
I then added a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, and then about 3 teaspoons of fennel seeds. My husband and I love fennel.
Then you just put your hands in there and squeeze it up until all ingredients are mixed.
Shape it into a loaf. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll shape it into two loaves so they’ll cook faster. I like to use this broiler-type pan so that the drippings can drip through to the bottom.
Almost 75% of the time I don’t use bacon on top, but for this one, I put a couple of slices of bacon on top, then slathered it with ketchup.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for…LOL a long time. I depend on a thermometer to tell me when it’s done. For two pounds of meat and formed into one loaf, this one took about an hour and twenty minutes.
EVERY time I have meat loaf my husband says, “Don’t let your meat loaf.” EVERY time.
This dish is inspired by my father’s Sicilian heritage and my husband’s Italian heritage. I put fennel in most all of my Italian tomato-based foods. My dad LOVED fennel seeds in his Italian food and it turns out that my husband grew to love them, too. I remember many meals at the Bartolomeo house, and one of them was when Grandpa Tony would cook Italian sausage on the grill.
Put water on to cook pasta. In a saute/fry pan, add fennel seeds, sliced onions and peppers, and saute in olive oil for a few minutes. (pictured is one small onion and one green pepper)
As they’re cooking, cook or brown your Italian sausage links. I put mine on the grill on high heat for about ten minutes, then on indirect heat for about 10. (Other ways to cook sausage? In a fry pan or boil in water and then put in pan for a couple of minutes to brown)
Add marinara to the grilled onions and peppers. You can make your own or use good jarred sauce. I used Trader Joe’s marinara, about 3/4 of a jar.
Put your pasta in the boiling water. I used linguine because it’s what was on hand. You could use spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, etc.
Cook marinara, peppers, and onions on simmer and when your sausages have cooked almost done, add them to the pan. Cover and let simmer and the sausages will finish cooking in the tomato sauce.
When the pasta is *al dente, take the sausages out of the sauce onto a plate. Add the pasta to the sauce, mixing well. If the sauce is not loose enough, add some pasta water. (Many times I take my pasta out using a pasta fork rather than dumping it all through a colander.) Add the sausages on top, cover and let cook on very low heat for a couple of minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
*al dente—The great opera soprano Beverly Sills, commented in an interview, that she had dinner with the famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. She said he cooked pasta for her, and to test if it was al dente, threw a strand against the wall. If it stuck, it was perfect! Tenor show-offs!