Red Sauce

since the weekend is usually pretty slow for blog traffic, i’ve decided to make saturday a food porn day.

from 1996-1999 i lived in Sicily, Motta to be exact.

the road going into Motta from the base.

the road going into Motta from misterbianco.

i lived at 47 via stazione from the street view, the first green balcony was mine. well, across the street, about a 1/2 a block away (54 via stazione), was a take-out joint called the take-away. it was owned by a guy from naples and his british wife. thusly, they spoke english. well, i would be doing my thing BBQ’ing on my patio (which it a total anomaly in sicily) and eventually, the owner’s from the take-away asked me about what i was cooking.

eventually, i’d bring them a plate of american grub (which they’d never tasted before) and mario (the owner) would take me in the kitchen and teach me the art of italian food. so now, i, the host of this site shall teach you what i learned from mario drago of naples, italy: the basic red sauce. this will be a portion enough for 2. adjust accordingly.

tomatos. i use:


mario told me he preferred the sauce to be slightly chunky, so i use peeled ‘maters, but feel free to use crushed.

garlic- 2-3 finely chopped cloves. feel free to use more.

fresh basil- 1 cup, roughly chopped.

olive oil- 4TBS

1/2 tsp sugar

heat oil at medium heat, wait 2 minutes and add chopped garlic. once slightly browned add the basil and stir for 2 minutes. add the tomatoes. bring heat to high. mash tomatoes but leave at whatever desired chunkiness you’d like. once it comes to a boil, drop the heat to low and continue to stir. this should take about 10 minutes. add 1 TBS kosher salt, stir in and cover.

leave it alone for 1 hour.

uncover and stir. bring heat to high and let it gently boil. once it comes to a boil, drop heat to low and stir. this is where you’d start cooking your pasta. once pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the water and add it to the sauce. the pasta water helps the sauce cling to the pasta and adds some body as well.

stir in the pasta water and let the sauce simmer for an hour.

and that my friend is it. you now have “sugo basilico” or “basil sauce”.

NOW. with this base you can now make many other pasta dishes. examples…..SURE. once you uncover add the following to make:

sugo putanesca- add black olives 4-5 anchovie slivers, red pepper, and capers.

sugo alla pesca- add a portion of raw, boned fish (usually tuna, salmon, or sardine).

sugo arrabiata- add fresh red pepper, crush into the sauce. in sicily they add ham. arrabiatta means “angry” in italian. add peppers to your taste.

sugo amatriciani- add onion, bacon (or panchetta), and red pepper.

sugo bolognese- 1/2lb ground beef, onion, and bacon

sugo alla norma- diced, fried eggplant and topped with ricotta cheese (traditional sicilian dish).

i think you get the picture. you can basically ANYTHING you’d like once you uncover it to simmer. the above are more common dishes that mario served. boun appetito.

stay up.

24 Comments on “Red Sauce”

  1. CLG says:

    holy shit. thats my great great grandfathers hometown. My papa just pointed out a building he thinks our family lived in. No wonder you can cook. can you break kneecaps too?

  2. RojoC says:

    That’s a goddamn awesome picture.

    Also, this is an important post. Thank you. I actually had no realization of how basic the red sauce was. I always said I was going to roll my own sauce with San Marzano’s but I never got around to it.

  3. Moose says:

    I’ll have to roll this out next time I have a lady friend over for dinner

  4. Faust says:

    Retard question here: How do you mash the tomatoes while it’s in the saucepan? (It goes in a saucepan, right?)
    Do you have like a masher or something?

  5. Socialkenny says:

    I’m not much of a cook, so…
    Anyway, since they had schooled you a bit on Sicilian cooking, did they ever get a tutoring or 2 from you on American grub? Plus you never really mentioned if they liked it (your BBQ).

  6. RojoC says:

    Wow, is Sicily still that poor, even today?

    Where you at NAS Sigonella or something?

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