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Roxy’s Recipes: Grandmom’s Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta… with a Little Help from Louie at the Chester Meat Market in Chester, New Jersey

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Although Rex does almost all of the cooking in our family, and my older sisters like to joke that I’m helpless in the kitchen, the truth is that I just don’t enjoy cooking on a regular basis.  I do have a few favorite recipes that I make from time to time.  One of them is passed along by my mom, who makes the best Italian meat sauce for pasta, but I’ve made enough adjustments to her recipe over the years to call it my own.  I should add that my hairdresser and good friend Madeline confused me for years by referring to Italian meat sauce for pasta as “gravy.”

After a perfect New Year’s Eve at home, including four live Maine lobsters and two bottles of bubbly, Rex and I decided to spend New Year’s Day together in the kitchen. He made two of my favorites for dinner tonight: Rosemary Meat Loaf and Macaroni and Cheese. I’ll be posting those recipes over the next day or so.  With a little help from Rex and Maddie, I made a big pot of…

Grandmom’s Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound hot sausage
  • 1 pound sweet sausage
  • 7 - 8 cloves garlic
  • 3 - 5 onions (3 large or 5 medium)
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your skillet)
  • Three (3) 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Organic Crushed Tomatoes as well as Red Pack)
  • One 28-ounce can of tomato sauce, plus two 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • One packet Lawry’s Extra Rich & Thick Spaghetti Sauce Spices & Seasonings (This is my mother’s secret ingredient; she always made her sauce with Spatini, but they don’t make it any more and Lawry’s is the next best thing.  If you can’t find it in your local store, it’s basically a mix of salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic powder)
  • One packet Lawry’s Original Style Spaghetti Sauce Spices & Seasonings
  • Oregano to taste (I use several teaspoons)
  • Basil to taste (I use several teaspoons)
  • Black pepper to taste (I use about one teaspoon)

To Make the Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta:

  1. Get the sausage out of its casing and separate sausage and ground beef into small pieces.  Maddie likes to roll it into balls, as shown in the photo above.
  2. Mince garlic (Rex did this for me, since he’s much more patient than I am with prep work)
  3. Chop onions (I did this myself, trying to imitate the way my father taught me to chop rapidly, without losing a finger along the way)
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet; add onions and garlic, saute until soft and golden brown.  Many recipes call for browning the meat at the same time as the garlic and onions, but then you’ll lose all the olive oil when you drain off the excess fat from the meat, so I do it in two steps.  Pour the olive oil, onions and garlic into a large stock pot.
  5. Brown ground beef, hot sausage and sweet sausage in skillet.  Pour off excess fat.  Do not pour excess fat down your kitchen sink… see Reissmann Plumbing to the Rescue.  Pour the meat into the large stock pot with the onions and garlic.  Move stock pot onto low heat.
  6. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Lawry’s seasoning packets, oregano, basil, and pepper.  Simmer for 45 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened to sauce consistency.  I keep the lid on the pot most of the time, then take it off for a while to let some of the liquid evaporate if the sauce is too thin.
  7. Enjoy!  Eat some now and save some for a rainy day… or, in my case, a night when Rex is out of town on business.  Pour over hot pasta, use in lasagna.

Yield:  A lot.  Enough to freeze and serve for months.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Chester, New Jersey, or the greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Randolph, Chester, Somerset or Morris County, NJ), you can count on Louie at the Chester Meat Market for your sausage and ground beef. It’s true that you can get the meat at your local Shop Rite, but Louie’s is a lot more fun. Chester Meat Market is located at 27 West Main Street, Chester, NJ. Phone: (908) 879-7523. Please don’t forget to tell Louie and the gang that Roxy sent you!

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