Salsa di Militello -- Militello Family Tomato Sauce


12 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and quartered (or two 28-ounce cans tomato puree)
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup of red wine
3 to 5 fresh basil leaves
grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)


Place tomatoes in a large, nonreactive saucepan; don’t add water. Crush tomatoes in pan, letting them cook in their own juices. Cook on medium heat; let boil about 10 minutes, stirring and crushing while cooking. When tomatoes are cooked through, run mixture through a saucemaker or force through a strainer to remove seeds and skins. In a large, nonreactive saucepan, heat beef over low to medium setting about two minutes, letting it release some of the oils; stir often. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper, and cayenne if desired. Saute until beef has browned, stirring often. Add wine. Let simmer two minutes; then add crushed, strained tomatoes. Let sauce come to a low boil. Lower heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes. Add basil 20 minutes before serving. Check seasoning; add more salt, pepper, and cayenne if desired. If sauce is fresh, cook slightly longer uncovered to reduce to a thicker consistency. Serve over fresh homemade pasta with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.


8 servings

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