Momo’s Mama’s Pasta Sauce, Meatballs & Braciole
Momo's Family Recipe! Anything Less is Friggin Ketchup!
Momo's Mama's Pasta Sauce, Meatballs & Braciole *** Please read this recipe carefully all the way through a few times before attempting to make it. It will take a little planning, but you need to think long and hard! Overall preparation and cooking time approximately 3 to 4 hours (or longer). Stuff you will need to make Momo's Mama's Pasta Sauce Recipe: Note: All seasonings are dry except for the Parsley, the Parsley MUST be fresh!
  • Oregano
  • 1 Medium yellow onion
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Sweet Basil
  • Fresh Parsley (Fresh Parsley - This is Important!! It MUST be Fresh Parsley!)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cooking Spray
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Garlic, Lots of Garlic!
  • Cajun Seasoning - Just a dash (any spicy Cajun seasoning will do)
  • Olive Oil (imported from Italy, of course!)
  • Sugar (your gonna add just a little bit later on during the cooking)
  • (2) 28 oz. / (2) 800g Tomato Puree
  • (2) 6 oz. / (2) 170g Tomato Paste
  • (1) 16 oz. / (1) 450g Diced Tomatoes
  • Red Wine (preferably "Ruffino Chianti Classico")
  • (2) Pork Chops (Average size thin) This comes into the recipe when you start making the Meatballs... You are making the Meatballs right? It really adds to the flavor of the sauce!)
  • A good Sauce pan at lease 10" diameter and 12" deep (Make sure you have a quality pan, cheap pans have a very thin bottom which tends to burn whatever it is you are cooking. A good quality sauce pan has a very thick bottom to it, this is much better for things that you have to cook for a long time such as sauces and soups.)
See below for VERY detailed recipe instructions...

OK, are you ready? Here we go....

How to make the Momo's Mama's Spaghetti Sauce, Meat Balls and Braciole

First...

Put enough olive oil in the pan to just barely cover the bottom. You want to have enough oil where the garlic can soak a little bit. Note From Momo: Make sure you have started the background Sinatra music, It will help get you in the mood for Italian Cooking.

Next...

Chop up (3) Large cloves of garlic as fine as you can. It's better to do this manually with a knife and your fingers in lieu of using a garlic chopper... This way, you will have that nice Italian Grandmother smell. If you do not have an Italian Grandmother...Trust me, their fingers always smell like garlic!

Next...

Add the garlic to the oil. Do not heat the pan up yet, just let the garlic sit there and bathe in the olive oil for a bit, this will help get the garlic flavor into the oil. You listening? These are Italian Grandma cooking secrets... it's important stuff ;)

Next...

While the garlic is bathing in the olive oil, chop up (1) medium size onion as fine as you can.

Next...

Heat the oil and garlic - medium heat. Heat until you see little bubbles around the garlic. (DO NOT OVER COOK THE GARLIC) When you see the little bubbles around the garlic add the chopped up onions and lower the heat to medium low. Be sure to do this as soon as you see the little bubbles around the edges of the garlic. This is Important!

Next...

Simmer at low heat, the oil, garlic and onions for about 5 minutes. While the onion, garlic and oil are simmering add 1 tsp. Oregano, 1/2 tsp. Sweet Basil, a dash of Salt and Pepper and mix well.

Next...

Spoon in (1) 6 oz. can of Tomato Paste and add (1) 6 oz can of water (use the Tomato Paste can). Turn the heat back up to medium. Mix well until paste is consistent throughout. Simmer for about 4 minutes. (Be sure to stir the sauce constantly for these 4 minutes) At this point you should add a touch of salt, black pepper and 1/2 tsp. of Oregano.

Next...

Add (1) 16 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes and (1/2) of the 16 oz. can of water using the Diced Tomato can. Mix well and simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir constantly. While simmering add 1 tsp. Oregano (yes, again), 1/2 tsp. Sweet Basil, 1-1/2 tsp. fresh chopped Parsley, just a dash of Cajun Seasoning 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder and a dash of course black pepper.

Next...

Add the second 6 oz. Tomato Paste and 6 oz. of water using the Tomato Paste can. Mix well and heat for another 10 minutes. At this point you should add a little salt and pepper. The heat should be set to medium heat, the sauce should not be boiling, if boiling turn down heat just a little. Also be sure to stir sauce every minute or so, you don't want anything sticking to the bottom of the pan in this part of the sauce making process. :-) Make sure the paste is mixed in well. When you add the tomato paste at this point, it's going to clump together, get a wooden spoon and squeeze the paste up against the side of the pan to mix the paste in well with the sauce.

Next...

Add (2) 28 oz. cans of Tomato Puree. Mix well. Add 1 tsp. Oregano (yes, again), Important note about adding Oregano and Sweet Basil, when adding this to the sauce, pour the tsp full in the palm or your hand and with your other hand rub hard to grind up the seasoning, this brings out the flavor a little more. 1 tsp. Parsley, (3) dashes of Sweet Basil and (3) dashes of Garlic Powder. Mix well. Keep at medium heat and cover pan. Be sure the sauce is not at a rapid boil. A little boiling is OK but not too much. Heat should be at medium or lower. You want to keep the medium heat on the sauce while you make the Meat Balls.

*** Don't forget to keep stirring the sauce every 3 minutes or so while your making the Meat Balls. This is Important!

Next...

Add 1/3 cup red wine and mix well. Let simmer (almost boiling) for about 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

At this point in your culinary adventure you will want to drop in (1) Bay Leaf, mix this sauce well after dropping in the bay leaf. To add a little fun you may want to toss the bay leaf over your back and see if you can make it into the pot ;)

OK, you're doing great! Now wipe the sweat of your forehead and lets get those Meat Balls going before the sauce burns....!

Just let the sauce simmer (not boiling) while your preparing the meatballs. It could take you about 1/2 hour to finish the Meatballs.

*** Important Note: About 10 minutes before you put the Meatballs into the sauce you will need to add (2) Tsp's of sugar. Sprinkle this in slowly while you're stirring the sauce. Mix the sauce well after adding the sugar.

Ok - just let it cook some more... Well... Start making those Balls!

Momo's Mama's Meatballs and Pork Chops

(an extremely important part of this recipe for overall flavor, adds a lot to the sauce, really!!!... You must make the Meat Balls!! This is Important!)

Oh, wait..... Did I forget to tell you my Familigia's recipe for Braciole, you know, that steak with bread crumb type filling all rolled up and held together with toothpicks or string...The string around the Braciole we call Italian dental floss :-) Braciole is an excellent addition to the sauce recipe. It makes the sauce taste even better! It's a good!! The Briciole recipe is towards the bottom of this page. .

Important Note: If you are going to make the Braciole (not a requirement - but an enhancement to the sauce) this is where you would make it and add it to the sauce. You should make the Briciole before the Pork Chops and Before the Meatballs. The meat for the Braciole needs to cook in the sauce longer than the Balls and Chops. **Very Important Note: You will want to make the Braciole and brown it in a pan as noted in the Braciole recipe toward the bottom of this page. You should also put the Braciole in the sauce right from the pan and you should place them in the sauce before you make the meatballs. This way your Braciole is cooking while your preparing the meatballs

OK... Back to the Chops and Balls!

Very Important Tip. When frying the Meat Balls and Pork Chops you MUST have a very good Non-Stick pan. Believe me, this helps!

Important Note: Before you make the Meat Balls you need to add the Pork Chops to the Mix.... Remember as I said in the beginning of the recipe; "(2) Pork Chops (Average size thin) This comes into the recipe when you start making the Meat Balls" hey... Here we are :-))

Pork Chops: Take the (2) thin Pork Chops and fry them in a pan. Cook on low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, then crank up the heat to high and sear the chops. You want to brown the meat. Cook on high for about 2 minutes on each side, just enough to brown each side of the chop. Add the chops to the sauce and stir. You want them to cook in the sauce while your making the Meat Balls. Now you can move onto the Meatballs...

OK, Here is the stuff you will need for the Meat Balls:

  • * 1 lb. / 450g Ground Chuck

  • * 1 Egg

  • * 1-1/2 pieces of dark Wheat Bread with crust

  • * A tiny bit of Italian bread crumbs (about 3 Tsp.)

  • * Fresh Parsley

  • * Parmesan Cheese

  • * Fresh Garlic - You can never have too much garlic!

  • * Garlic Powder

  • * Coarse Black Pepper and Salt

  • * A splash of red wine

  • * Sweet Basil

  • Don't forget to keep stirring the sauce every 3 minutes or so while you're making the Meatballs, and make sure it's not boiling. Ideal, you want the sauce at a point where it's almost boiling you'll have to check the temperature often. This is Important!

OK, are you ready? Here we go.... Hang in there, we're almost done...

First...

Get a big bowl and put the 1 lb. of ground chuck in it. It's very important to have 1 lb. of ground chuck and not more or less. This recipe works best with 1 lb. of ground chuck.

Next...

Chop up 1/4 cup of fresh Parsley as fine as you can. Fresh Parsley is extremely important, the dried up stuff in a bottle is not Parsley, it's just green stuff they find on the ground at factories. Add the Parsley to the bowl. Don't mix anything yet. You're going to add all this stuff and mix when your done.

Next...

Add (1) Egg to bowl.

Next...

Chop up (2) large cloves of garlic as fine as you possibly can and add to bowl.

Next...

Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese to the bowl.

*** Don't forget to keep stirring the sauce every 3 minutes or so while your making the Meat Balls. This is Important!

Next...

Take your (1-1/2) pieces of Dark Wheat Bread and rub it under the faucet and get it soaking wet. Then squeeze as much of the water as you can out of the bread. The bread should be a gooey consistency. What I call Meat Ball Glue, very important. Break the bread up into the bowl. At this point you need to also add about (3) Tsp. of Italian bread crumbs.

Next...

Add coarse black pepper, salt, garlic powder, a splash of red wine and about a tsp. of Sweet Basil.

*** Don't forget to keep stirring the sauce every 3 minutes or so while your making the Meat Balls. This is Important!

OK, Lets get your hands dirty.

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well. You will need to work the meat for about 3 minutes until you end up with a big relatively firm ball. Note: it will help if you refrigerate the meat before mixing it in the bowl, this will help keep the balls firm while you browning them.

Next...

Get a good Non-Stick frying pan and spray on some cooking spray. Take the meat and make 1" to 1-1/2" balls. Roll them around in your hand and try to make them as firm as possible. You might want to start out with 1" balls the first time you make them. 1" balls are easier to handle. What I mean is they don't fall apart as easy. Also what I use is two flat wooden spoons to roll the balls around while browning. Important note: The meatballs will not be perfectly round when your done searing them, you may have some odd shape balls, but don't worry about it, your going for taste here :)

Next...

Get the pan very hot, heat should be on medium high to high, you will probably add a lot of smoke to your house at this point, if you are not getting a LOT of smoke from the browning Meatballs, you don't have the heat high enough. You want to sear the meat to a dark brown. Be careful with the balls at first you don't want them to fall apart. They should be cooked to a point where you can roll them around the pan and have them appear to be firm.

*** Important Note: Did you put the (2) Tsp's of sugar into the sauce like Momo told you just prior to making the Meatballs? If not, do it now! This is an important step.

Next...

When they appear to be seared well and firm take them right from the frying pan into the sauce. Grease is an important ingredient to the flavor of the sauce. (If your worried about cholesterol and fat then don't eat Italian food. :-)...

OK, Stay with me now...

*** Don't forget to keep stirring the sauce every 3 minutes or so while your making the Meat Balls. This is Important! *** From this point on when you stir the sauce, stir gently, remember you have meatballs in the sauce now and you don't want to break them up when their cooking in the sauce.

Next...

Now you should have your chops and the balls (and the Braciole, if you're making it) in the sauce and the heat should be at medium low.

Once the Pork Chops, Meatballs and/or Braciole are in the sauce, be sure to stir gently while they're cooking, you don't want them to fall apart.

Cover the sauce pan and continue to heat the sauce at medium for another 30 minutes, a little boiling is OK. Important Note: At this point it is important to keep lifting the cover to make sure the sauce is not boiling too much, also stir the sauce occasionally while cooking with the cover on. Important Tip: Also at this point in the process you may start to see little puddles of grease forming at the top of the sauce. What you want to do, is get a coffee mug and a table spoon, carefully dip the table spoon into the top surface of the sauce where you see the grease puddles and scoop out as much as the grease/oil as you can into the coffee mug. You may have to do this several times throughout the whole cooking process. You can throw out the grease later.

OK, now taste the sauce... Oh that's a good!!!! Important Tip: This is where you would add more spices to your liking. Sometimes at this point Momo might add A little bit more Oregano, Garlic powder, salt and pepper. But you taste it and see for yourself. It may be just right at this point. Another Important note: at this point if you taste a hint of bitterness to the sauce you can add (1) tsp. of sugar, this will help.

Now heat on very low heat for 1-1/2 hours or so uncovered. Be sure to stir occasionally during this time, a little boiling is OK. Occasionally = every 5 minutes This is REALLY important! If you don't stir you burn the sauce, if you burn the sauce, well, then the outcome could get ugly! Your reputation as a good cook and a man of honor could go right down the drain...

Tip:

The sauce gets a much better flavor if you finish your sauce a couple hours before your going to eat. When you finish the sauce, just turn off the burner and let it sit on the stove covered. Let sit for about 1 to 2 hours. When you ready to eat, just heat the sauce back up again for about ten minutes, just to get it hot, then serve.

When you're ready to serve, take out the Meatballs, Pork Chops and/or Braciole and put them into a nice bowl to serve out of. Make sure you carefully remove all the string from the Braciole before serving.

Also, you should have your broad put a nice large serving bowl of sauce on the table for people to add to their plate after they have scooped up everything they want on their plate. You've worked hard on the sauce and you want them to enjoy it.

Yields approximately 12 balls.

That's it you're done........ Easy as Pie.

Momo's Mama's Braciole (Bree-Zshole)

Yet another extremely important part (but not a requirement) of this recipe for overall flavor, adds a lot to the sauce. We made it this way in the joint.

OK, Here is the stuff you will need for the Braciole:

  • 1 lb "Round Steak" or 1lb "London Broil"

  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

  • Fresh Parsley

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (fresh grated recommended)

  • (3) cloves Fresh Garlic - You can never have to much garlic!

  • Coarse Black Pepper and Salt

  • Very Important Tip. When frying the Braciole you MUST have a very good Non-Stick pan. Believe me, this helps!

First of all...

When you go to your local grocery store to get the 1 lb "Round Steak" or 1 lb "London Broil" you will need to ask the butcher to slice the meat up into 1/4" thin pieces.

Take the meat slices and lay them out on wax paper. Now pound the heck out of them, you need a meat pounder for this part. Mama always wanted to make sure there were no bambinos sleeping while she did this. The pieces will end up larger when you're done pounding and you may have to cut them in half and do some trimming.

You want to have pieces that are approximately 7"x3" and relatively rectangular in shape, sometimes when they slice the meat you may get some slices that come to a point, you will have to cut those ends off, it becomes a problem when you start to roll the meat up if one edge is a lot smaller than the other. (Did that make sense to you??)

Anyway, now that you have your 7"x3" rectangular slices of meat sitting on your counter, staring at you, waiting for some Italian influence... what you want to do is chop up some nice fresh parsley, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, grade some fresh Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup, and chop up 3 cloves of garlic as fine as you can.

Next...

Sprinkle on the meat a little finely chopped fresh garlic (spread out the garlic with you're fingers and try to press the garlic into the meat), some bread crumbs, fresh parsley and fresh Parmesan cheese, then add a dash of salt and coarse black pepper. Make sure it's evenly spread out on the meat.

OK, now you're ready to roll up the meat...

Roll up the meat as tight as you can and tie it up with some very strong thread (we call this Italian dental floss). You will need about three pieces of string for each piece. You want to tie it well enough to hold it all together. Make sure to leave long pieces of string hanging off the knot you make so you can find the string after cooking it. If you don't have strong thread, it will fall apart during the searing process.

OK, now that you have all you're meat rolled up, tied up and ready to go, let's put the meat in the very hot pan.

Take them right from the frying pan into the sauce.

Hint:

You may want to prepare the Braciole in advance and stick them in the refrigerator until you put the Meatballs in the sauce, then you can add the Braciole.

This recipe should yield approximately 7 to 10 Braciole Rolls.

This part of the recipe will take practice. You will have to make the Braciole several times before you get it just right. You'll have to play around with the amount of ingredients to add to the meat and the size of the roll. You don't want the rolls too thick or you will have to cook you're sauce longer.

May I suggest a nice Italian Red Wine to go with this wonderful meal? Yes? Ok, I suggest these two Italian red wines: Venturini Amarone della Valpolicella or Ruffino Riserva Ducale' Chianti Classico.

May I suggest listening to some good Italian music while your cooking, it really helps you get in the mood for good Italian food! I recommend: Italian Gold: Treasured Collection by: Al Caiola, and of course, Sinatra is always good!

Momo's Pasta Sauce Tips

1.) When you get ready to cook the pasta (preferably a thin spaghetti) - make sure you add some salt and olive oil (a cap full) to the water prior to boiling. The olive oil will help keep the pasta from sticking together.

2.) When the pasta is done. (Usually takes about 10 minutes) be sure to drain the pasta just a little bit. After draining the pasta, put the pasta in a nice large serving bowl, add a little bit of sauce, about 1/2 to 1 cup full, mix up the pasta so there is just a little bit of sauce mixed in well with all the pasta, this will keep the pasta from sticking together in the bowl while your trying to get everyone to stop talking and get to the table to eat. Sit down at the table like a gentleman and have your broad serve you!

3.) It is mandatory that you have garlic bread with this meal!

4.) This recipe makes a lot of sauce. About enough for 4 people with enough left over for 4 quarts to freeze for later. There is some mysterious thing about spaghetti sauce, it seems to get a lot better after it has been frozen. It make great leftovers.

This is Momo's family recipe which has been passed down through generations. Special credits go to Grandma Rose, and my Mama... I've watched them VERY closely when they made their sauce on many occasions, so this recipe is a culmination of spaghetti sauce styles from my grandma, my mama, and some revisions that Momo learned in the joint. Have your broad serve it you with a nice chianti. Relax and enjoy it like a man of honor! Salute!