Yia Yia's Neapolitan Sauce

Yia Yia, my maternal grandmother, made this exact sauce and it's the base for several dishes I make besides this one. But of course it's fantastic just served on pasta topped with torn fresh basil. What makes this sauce so good is the long, slow cooking time, which allows it to develop a complex flavor. It shouldn't simmer; there should just be a bubble rising to the surface every now and then. Meaty beef bones add more depth and complexity. (If you have beef stock, you can add 2 cups of it in place of the bones.) This sauce is chunky with abundant tomato and sliced garlic. Depending on what you're using this for, it can be served as is (over a very thick hearty pasta or as part of a braising liquid). But if you were to use it for an angel hair or as a sauce for sauteed veal, you would probably want to puree it in a blender until it's uniformly smooth.

TOTAL TIME: 4 hr 25 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 4 hr 10 min
YIELD: About 2 quarts
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • Two 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • One 2-to 3-inch Parmesan rind
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Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ribs and brown evenly, about 4 minutes. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and cook until translucent, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until everything is soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes along with the oregano, red pepper flakes if using, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to its lowest possible setting and continue to cook until reduced by about a third, for up to 8 hours.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Remove the bay leaf. If not using right away, let the sauce cool, and then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Tip: This sauce freezes well, so you can make big batches, portion it into smaller containers and freeze it for when you need it.

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