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Johnny Sack's Spaghetti

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Boilermaker View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 December 2010 at 18:34
This one is a little different.  This is the spaghetti recipe that has become a regular in our house and I suspect my little one's will be making it long after I am gone.

This recipe is based on one that was created by Vincent Curatola and posted on his website.  You may remember him as the actor who portrayed one of the bosses of the New York mob, John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni, on "The Sopranos".  He is a wonderful actor and an equally talented cook. 

Here is the link to Mr. Curatola's original recipe:

http://www.vincentcuratola.com/recipe.html

My version is basically the same except that I make a double batch, doubling everything except for the anchovies which I keep at one can, I cook it longer than he does which makes it thicker, and I add meat.

My children love this so much that when they see the cans of tomatoes in the bags from the grocery when we bring them home they start squealing.....

"Woo hoo!! we're having Johnny Sack's!!"

Here's the goods....



8 T extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
2 - 28 oz cans of imported Italian plum tomatoes
1 small can of anchovy filets packed in oil
1/2 t sugar
1 t oregano
1 t basil
1 cup Marsala wine
1/2 t salt (a bit more if you don't include the anchovies)
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 lb or more of Italian sausage or meatballs or a combination of the two
1 lb spaghetti


Start off by peeling, crushing, and mincing 6 cloves of garlic and saute in 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.


 
Whilst the garlic is sauteing away take the anchovies and the oil they are packed in and mash them into a paste with a fork.





Once the garlic is soft, add the tomatoes.  Aren't those imported Italian plum tomatoes just gorgeous?



Crush the tomatoes with a fork, and add the anchovies, sugar, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.



Let this get happy and simmer away until it has reduced somewhat and then add the cup of Marsala wine, figure on this taking 30 min or slightly more before adding the wine.  You'll know when it has reduced and is no longer watery.



Simmer until you get the consistency you want, then add the oregano and basil and simmer for a few minutes.  I like to add herbs at the end of cooking because they are very aromatic and long cooking tends to boil off their very delicate aromatics.  If you want a lot of herb flavor add them earlier and cook them longer and then add more at the end of the cooking time for the aroma.  Same concept as bittering versus finishing hops when brewing beer.

This is the end of the recipe proper.  This is where Mr. Curatola and most of his fellow Italians would serve it over pasta.



This is the continuation of the recipe and is where I may be breaking with tradition.  I'm German/English/French as opposed to Italian so I'm not sure if the following is traditional or not but it sure is good.  I add some ground Italian sausage and some meatballs I have made from Italian sausage mixed with an egg, some bread crumbs, and grated parmesan cheese.  I bake the meatballs in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes before putting them into the sauce, the ground sausage I brown in a skillet first.  This keeps a lot of the fat from the sausage and meatballs out of the finished sauce.  In this case both meatballs and the ground sausage are from the Italian sausage I made in this earlier tutorial:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/homemade-italian-sausage-completed-w-pics-added_topic990.html



Simmer the sauce and the meats for a few minutes and then serve.  Yum!



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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 20:34
andy, that is wonderful-looking spaghetti! i would really like to try that next time we make it. great back story, very good pictures and a wonderful-looking plate of italian goodness! i've been waiting on your italian sausage until it is finshed, so will check it out now!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 03:25
Andy what a gorgeous, belly-warming meal! I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the anchovies...I'm crazy about those little fishes.
Nice step by step and really great plated shot...outstanding post that is going to the top of my to-do listClap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 12:27
andy, the more i look at it, the more i am sure i have to make this soon. a couple of questions:
 
a) i love the italian sausage and would be right in line to use it, but the beautiful-yet-picky mrs. tas is not so fond of italian sausage and prefers to use browned ground beef in spaghetti sauce. my question for you is have you ever tried this with burger and if so, did you think it was just as good, almost as good, or nowhere close?
 
my personal opinion is that a recipe like this screams for italian sausage, but you know the old saying about keeping mama happy. looks to me like it would be good either way, but this is a really great-looking sauce and if it takes italian sausage to get it that way, then mrs. tas might have to endure it! if i go with italian sausage, and can't be making my own, would you think johnsonville italian sausage is adequate?
 
b) also, we don't get those wonderful italian plum tomatoes here (those look like san marzanos and if so, they are as good as it gets for sauce!) but i am hoping that del monte or hunts tomaotes might work as well - any opinions?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 12:50
Ron,

I have made this with ground beef, Italian sausage, and without any meat at all and it is fantastic in all cases.  It is amazing that such simple ingredients can produce such awesome flavor.

The tomatoes do not have to be imported, I have used Kroger brand plum tomatoes as well as Del Monte.  You should be able to get some Del Monte or Hunt's or another brand.  Regardless of the brand they will be called "Italian Style" or "Plum Tomatoes" and they usually have basil packed in with them.  When I have made this using Del Monte or Hunts it has been every bit as good as when I used the imported tomatoes.

As far as Italian sausage, when I buy it I buy Kroger brand which is just as good as Johnsonville.  Also, everyone agreed that my homemade sausage I made from the recipe Hoser gave me is is the best we've ever had.  Once you make this you will be making it often.

Also, a lot of folks turn their noses up at anchovies and you can leave them out of you like, just add a bit more salt.  I have made it both with and without them but my kids prefer it with the anchovies and they demand that I include them.  They add a really rich, nice flavor but if you choose the leave them out it is still very, very good.  Mr. Curatola's original recipe actually calls for double the amount of anchovies that I use.

Let me know how it turns out!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 13:02
count me in for the anchovies, which will be a "secret" ingredient when i make this. to me, anchovies bring a depth of flavour to any tomato-based italian dish - part is the salt but there is also much more; there is no describing it but it's good any in my opinion doesn't overwhelm the opther flavours, so the anchovies are definitely going in!
 
good news about the ground beef. i will use that and keep her happy. i am going to have to try my hand at making some of your italian sausage - in fact, she might een be open to the idea of using home-made italian sausage, so that would be a bonus. i may get ?in trouble" for buying a pork shoulder roast though and might have to see if buying ground pork will produce similar results. i imagine it will be close, if not the same as, using the shoulder and will follow the instructions to the letter!
 
don't recall seeing any canned plum tomatoes in the local groceries, but will take a second look. i do see plenty of round and diced canned tomatoes in the italian" variety with ehrbs etc. added, and if all else fails i imagine these will be close. i must say, watching the progression of your pictures, that sauce looks so italian (with or eothout meat) that it is a true inspiration. thanks for posting it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 13:26
You all will love this sauce.  Any of the Italian style tomatoes will produce a good result.

Ground pork is fine for sausage, just watch your fat content, some of the ground pork is pretty lean and will yield a dry sausage, you're shooting for about a 20% fat content.  The butcher should be able to give you an idea of the fat content of his ground pork.

What amazes me about this sauce is the simplicity of the ingredients and yet what a complex and rich sauce they produce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 13:31
that's what it's all about, andy. since i have gotten into this "peasant" eating, it has ALL been about producing the most woderful, deep flavours from such simple ingredients provided by the land. no need to gussy anything up ~ when you get the chance, give the carbonade flamand or the french version, carbonnade de beouf, a try. another example of what we're talking about here!Tongue
 
sounds good with the sauce - i am committed to trying it now as soon as i can ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 17:34
I was just at the Kroger's and they had 28 oz. Hunt's Plum Tomatoes for $1.85 a can.  They would work great for this sauce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 December 2010 at 01:16
Hunt's tomatoes won the taste testing by Cooks Illustrated as well.
It is the number 1 rated diced tomato.
Go to Cooking Basics to see the test result for both whole and diced tomatoes.
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dla69 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 January 2011 at 14:32
Two things.

1) It looks like we have the same stove.
2) I'm surprised to see DeLallo's brand canned goods in Ga.  The DeLallo headquarters and awesome Italian market are only a few miles away.

Unfortunately, the wife doesn't do anchovies. :(
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2011 at 07:50
The DeLallo canned tomatoes are AWESOME and cost only marginally more than Krogers house brand.  I'll bet that is some market!

If the wife doesn't like anchovies just leave them out,  I've made this both with and without the little fishies and it is great either way.  As for me, I'll eat 'em right from the can.Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 January 2011 at 15:57
hey, andy - it looks like i have almost everything to give this a go (i think i just need to get some oregano and a new bulb of garlic), plus my wife likes spaghetti - hope to make it this weekend, if not sooner!
 
i'll be making it with the anchovies, but don't tell her that! Shocked
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 January 2011 at 09:25
one more question - have you ever tried this with a finely-diced onion in the sauce? seems to me, that carmelising the onion along with the garlic at the beginning would be a good flavour boost.
 
i've got everything to give this a shot, and wanted to ask about that. true marsala is very hard to find around here, except for the cheap, low-grade cooking marsala that is heavily laced with salt, so i will be using carlo rossi's paisano wine, which has served me very well in the past with other italian-style tomato sauces ~ Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2011 at 03:07
I made this last night Andy, and we both enjoyed it very much!
The only departure from the original recipe was that I caramelized an onion first , then went with the original recipe.
It was very tasty, and even Rocky the cat like it....must have been the anchovies that attracted him.Wink
Thanks for a great recipe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2011 at 12:09
hey, andy - i'm making this one now, as we speak! will start a new thread when i post the pix ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2011 at 22:21
Thanks guys, I've been away for a few days and just saw your posts.

Dave,

Glad you liked it and carmelized onion would be an EXCELLENT addition.  Rocky has great taste!

Ron,

Please let me know how it turns out.  I hope you all like it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote got14u Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 March 2011 at 16:22
Holy smokes that looks good...it is on the short list for sure.
Jerod

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2012 at 02:24
Boilmaker.
 
Wow, this is a Stunner sauce . Preparing today for tomorrow, which is a long holiday weekend for us in Spain ( All Saints Day). Thanks for posting. I shall be preparing Hoser´s Meatballs with it, baked in oven. 
 
I shall be preparing with fresh over ripe red juicy tomatoes ( 1 kilo ) and 1 can of Italian Tomatoes in addition to a bit of tomato paste plus of course, and the Italian Wine. I shall follow your recipe except for this addition.
 
Enjoyed the feature very much. Ron is going to post my photos as I have had to learn how to do this from my Cell Smart Phone Samsung Galaxy.
 
Kindest and Happy Thanksgiving.
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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2012 at 04:50
     Yum, all those pictures and descriptions have my mouth watering!  Boilermaker, nice job with the post and pictures describing how to make the sauce...you guys never cease to amaze me with all your detailed recipes - great job. 

   Dan
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