This was a recipe I made a long, long time ago for Hari Raya celebrations, and at the point of time I haven’t started blogging my culinary exploits just yet. The recipe is from Emeril’s Potluck, and as you probably can imagine, this makes a potluck-sized batch.
Aside from the Essence which you may want to invest some time in (really worth the effort), the ingredients for this recipe are fairly easy to find. The Italian Seasoning and various types of canned tomatoes are available even in hypermarts like Tesco, and you can find the fresh sausages at the more upmarket grocers such as Village Grocer or B.I.G. What I found slightly more challenging is finding canned tomato sauce, but this can be substituted by pureeing canned stewed tomatoes.
I also splurged a bit on San Marzano canned whole peeled tomatoes; these are Italy’s best tomatoes, grown on volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. Look for the words “Pomodoro S. Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino” on the can, which is supposed to indicate that these San Marzanos are the real deal. If the can doesn’t have any English on it, look for the words, “pomodori pelati interi” which means whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzanos are known for their sweetness and low acidity, which makes them perfect for making tomato soups and sauces. And my oh my, the investment really paid off.
The San Marzanos gave the sauce such a rich flavor and sweetness, I didn’t have to do much else to make the dish taste good. It was as if I made completely different recipe from the one last time, just by switching this one ingredient. So worth it!
Bring this to a potluck, San Marzanos and all, and I assure you it will be a hit at any gathering. Enjoy!
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 large yellow onions, chopped, about 5 cups
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 20 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds (jintan manis)
- 1 (340-gram) can tomato paste
- 4 (411-gram) cans stewed tomatoes, pureed OR 4 (425-gram) cans tomato sauce
- 2 (400-gram) cans whole peeled tomatoes, pureed with their juice
- 2 teaspoon Essence
- 700 grams ground beef
- 700 grams Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 400 grams fresh hot sausage (I use chorizo), removed from casings
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 teaspoons Essence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Make the Red Gravy. In a very large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat.
Add the onions, Italian Essence, salt and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and fennel and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste begins to brown, 5 minutes.
Add the pureed stewed tomatoes, pureed whole tomatoes, 2 1/2 cups water and Essence.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the gravy is simmering, make the Sausage Meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, Italian sausage, hot sausage, garlic, eggs, Essence, salt and black pepper.
Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix briefly but thoroughly to distribute the seasonings.
Shape into 20 to 22 large meatballs, about 1/3 cup each. Set aside in the refrigerator.
After the gravy has been simmering for 45 minutes, add the meatballs to the gravy.
Do not stir until the meatballs float to the surface, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir well and simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and skimming off any fat that rises to surface.
Taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary, and serve immediately over hot pasta and with the grated Parmesan.