I love to make spaghetti sauce. I find it sort of relaxing to chop up all those vegetables and throw in all those spices and just let it simmer. The added bonus is that it makes the house smell wonderful. I always use my Mom’s recipe so it was with a certain amount of awe that I came across the very same recipe – with only minor tweaks in Mom’s version – in an old add for NOLA favorite Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market.
The Market was a New Orleans tradition and they were definitely a one stop shop. By the time we lived in NOLA (in 1967), you could literally get anything you wanted. They had hardware, produce, a butcher’s counter, baked goods from McKenzie’s (I still remember their Halloween cookies), even live goldfish in fancy glass bowls. They had a full bar as well as a diner where they sold things like fries and po-boys and the most amazing, slow cooked spaghetti and meatballs.
Schwegmann’s, like K & B, McKenzie’s and Pontchartraine Beach, has gone the way of the dodo (as they say in NOLA, ain’t ‘dere no mo) but evidently the spaghetti sauce lives on. Who knew Mom had lifted hers from an add in the Times-Picayune? This is how food traditions happen.
Anyway, and more to the point, here is the recipe with Mom’s variations at the bottom. The recipe is great for this hectic time of the year because the sauce can sit on the stove literally all day (even overnight) and simply taste that much better for it.
½ cup butter
1 cup chopped green onions
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 green bell peppers, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz can whole Italian tomatoes
3 6 oz cans tomato paste
3 8 oz cans tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) and add the first 7 ingredients. Add a bit of salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat 15 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, bay leaves and whole tomatoes. Using a fork, mash the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Now lower your heat, put a lid on your pot just slightly askew so steam can escape and let the mixture simmer for 1 hour. Add the tomato paste and sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the sugar, cover again and allow the sauce to simmer for another 2 hours or longer. You can add water if the sauce thickens too much for your taste.
Mom left out the parsley, because Dad and my brother didn’t like it (“Too much green”). She used a tablespoon of basil and ½ tablespoon each of thyme and oregano rather than the Italian seasoning and she deglazed the pan with a bit of wine (red or white; whatever was open) before adding the seasonings and tomatoes. She never made meatballs but would often put ground beef in to brown after the veggies were clarified and pour off the fat before moving on to the next step.
There you have it. I’m thinking this sauce made into lasagna for Christmas Eve will hit the spot very well. I’ll let you know. And do let me know if you all want the Schwegmann’s meatball recipe; I found that in the add, too. Bon appetite ~
Header: Medieval cooks working on a sauce