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Thread: "Real" Italian Spaghetti Sauce

  1. #1
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    "Real" Italian Spaghetti Sauce

    I have some friends that are true Italians and they kept talking about making their spag sauce the "real" way - so I had them tell me how to make it, but of course they went on and on about the ingredients and how to do it, but no measurements and it sounded pretty meat laden.... I don't want to ask these 2 in particular for the recipe right now as they are both studying for their boards......

    So for you true Italian folk out there, could you tell me how to make "real" Italian Spaghetti Sauce??? I make sure but it has oregano and basil, etc... and I have been educated that "real" sauce doesn't have this stuff in it-but I do recall them saying lots of parsley...... I make my sauce with turkey, but I'd be open to seeing the "real" recipe and adapting to what I think I'd like, etc....

    Thanks so much!!!!

    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  2. #2
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    I'm not Italian. Not even the tiniest smidge, but I suspect your friends are talking about "Sunday Gravy". Many years ago I watched an Italian woman do a cooking demonstration on Sara Moulton's Cooking Live. I made her Tomato Gravy after watching the episode and it really was spectacular. I know I've also seen many other versions- many call for whole pieces of meat instead of meatballs. And for these meatballs she highly recommended using 1/3 each of beef, veal and pork. I've never used the veal.

    Now, whether this is an authentic recipe or not, I have no idea, but the lady on the TV show sure seemed to think it was.

    Here's another recipe on Food Network's website for a different Sunday Gravy.


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Tomato Gravy


    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 cloves garlic -- sliced
    6 ounces tomato paste
    1/4 teaspoon sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 cup parsley
    8 basil leaves
    2 tablespoons parmesan cheese -- *see Note
    84 ounces crushed tomatoes
    15 ounces tomato sauce
    2 cups water
    Meatballs:
    1 pound mixed ground meats
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons parsley
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- grated
    1/2 cup bread crumbs
    4 cloves garlic -- sliced

    Brown meatballs inolive oil. Remove. Saute garlic in th same oil. Add tomato paste and cook for a few minutes.

    Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Simmer, covered. When the mixture bubbles, add meatballs and paste mixture. Stir every 15 minutes, scraping bottom of pot. Simmer for 3 hours, keeping the lid askew to prevent condensation.




    NOTES : Recommended to use Locatelli romano or Pecorino romano cheese
    Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
    Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?


    I'm food bloggin' almost daily at Tummy Treasure!

  3. #3
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    Not Italian myself (I'm 100% Polish), but I grew up in the NY/NJ area with a bunch of folks who were.

    I assume your friends are talking about Sunday gravy. If you do a Google search you'll find a bunch of recipes. Of course, everyone's grandmother had her own version Every version I've had has meat in it in some form (beef, pork, veal).

    Kinda like my grandmothers each had different recipes for pierogi.

    Michelle

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkc View Post
    Not Italian myself (I'm 100% Polish), but I grew up in the NY/NJ area with a bunch of folks who were.

    I assume your friends are talking about Sunday gravy. If you do a Google search you'll find a bunch of recipes. Of course, everyone's grandmother had her own version Every version I've had has meat in it in some form (beef, pork, veal).

    Kinda like my grandmothers each had different recipes for pierogi.

    Michelle
    Ooh Michellle… did you want to share one?
    Sarah

  5. #5
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    My mom had a different recipe for each season, winter being the "hardiest" as she described it and the summer being "light". The amount and kinds of meats she used determined the season.

    Some of her friends called it gravy, others called it sauce, guess it depended on where in Italy you originated.

    And, it HAD to cook for a long time, that was her reason for making it on a Sunday.

    I'll look for it and be back but it is another one of those no measurement deals...
    Last edited by SusanL; 02-17-2012 at 05:38 PM.
    "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

  6. #6
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    I was going to say it depends on where in Italy your friends are from, but if everyone's talking about Sunday Gravy, I assume they're American?
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  7. #7
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    I made this recipe back in Oct. 09 for Game #178.

    DH has been wanting us to make this for YEARS So today is the day. This is from one of my favorite cooks on TV, "The Frugal Gourmet". I sure do miss him.

    RAGU

    Makes about 3 quarts

    "Ragu is a simple sauce made almost entirely with meat, and it is common throughout the Emilia-Romagna region-well, all of Northern Italy for that matter. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are grandmas in the area. Tambaurini, one of the finest food stores in Bologna, makes something like the following. However, in a very famous restaurant in Parma, the chef uses little else than veal and butter. So enjoy, but this dish makes anything on which you put it into an entire meal."

    1/2 cup olive oil
    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 rib celery, finely chopped
    1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    1/2 lb pancetta finely chopped
    2 lbs veal, coarsely ground
    2 lbs pork butt, coarsely ground
    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    2 1/2 cups chicken stock
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 6 oz can tomato paste
    6 TB butter
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    2 tsp chopped fresh sage
    2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat a 10 to 12 quart heavy-bottom stainless-steel kettle, and add the oil, garlic, celery, carrot, and onion. Saute until the onion is transparent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the pancetta and saute 5 minutes. Add the veal and pork and brown until crumbly, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, chicken stock, white wine, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partly covered, for 2 hours. Add the butter, cream, sage, and cheese and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Skim the fat from the top of the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Source: The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian - Jeff Smith 1993

    It is cooking now, will get back to you later with the results.

    It's later To quote DH, "it's delicious, worth waiting for". We served it over corkscrew pasta.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I won't bore you with all the details, but it has taken me 2 hrs. to find this recipe. Sorry to say this, but we have the worst search function on the internet. Why, when I put in Ragu didn't this post come up?
    Last edited by cookieee; 02-17-2012 at 06:57 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by foodie18 View Post
    Ooh Michellle… did you want to share one?
    I wish I could - I never got the recipes My favorite were potato and "pot cheese". Little carby belly bombs of grandmotherly love :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    I was going to say it depends on where in Italy your friends are from, but if everyone's talking about Sunday Gravy, I assume they're American?
    I read the OP's comment about the spaghetti sauce being "pretty meat laden" and immediately thought "Sunday gravy".

    The bolognese ragu recipe I have uses pancetta, finely diced beef, ground veal, and takes several (very patient, occasionally interactive) hours to make. It's not what I'd call "spaghetti sauce" since it's more meat than tomato.

    Michelle

  9. #9
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    I have a Sunday Gravy recipe from a cookbook, the name of which I can't remember and I'm sorry I just don't want to go upstairs and find it, something like the Italian Mens Social Club or something. It has meatballs, short ribs, braciole, and sausage in it, I think? In fact, I think I've post it here before--and now I'm thinking I need to make it again one of the next couple Sundays, before the weather gets warm. It make a metric ton, and it does take all day, but it's good as a once in a while treat....if I can't turn it uo in search, I'll come back and post it.
    "Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
    Use an egg carton like everyone else and stop being such a poser." - The Little Book of Wrong Shui

  10. #10
    Some of her friends called it gravy, others called it sauce, guess it depended on where in Italy you originated.

    And, it HAD to cook for a long time, that was her reason for making it on a Sunday.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilgamesh37 View Post
    I have a Sunday Gravy recipe from a cookbook, the name of which I can't remember and I'm sorry I just don't want to go upstairs and find it, something like the Italian Mens Social Club or something.
    Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian?

    http://www.recipelink.com/mf/31/50929

    Michelle

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by mkc View Post
    Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian?

    http://www.recipelink.com/mf/31/50929

    Michelle
    I'm not Italian but have plenty of friends who made this every weekend for their Sunday dinner. That is exactly as I remembered it.

    Doesn't that look wonderful? Such hard work by today's standards. Can't you smell the kitchen?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    Reported.
    ?????????

  14. #14
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    I need to find that cookbook, Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian!

    I am copying the above recipes, I hoard them, you know

    Here is my mom's recipe:
    Swirl enough olive oil on the bottom of a large heavy bottom pan to cover it.
    Peel one large onion and stick about 8 whole cloves into it. Add onion, celery ribs, garlic, *meats, and peppercorns to the pan. Add the meats and sauté meats until they are “gently” brown. Add cans of tomato sauce with water that you rinsed out the cans, parsley and basil and simmer on low to medium heat, cook for 1 hour **or more.

    Add tomato paste if too thin.( May use homemade chicken broth in place of water.)

    *Winter meats include very lean pieces of beef, country spare ribs, fresh sausage, and pork.

    **She would remove the meats so that they wouldn't lose all of their flavor to the sauce.Continue to cook down the sauce. She hated when people served the sauce with meats that had lost their flavor. That's what she said!

    Oh, and NO oregano in her recipe. She also reminded me of that many times.

    Can you tell that she was a tiny, strong-minded Italian woman? Couldn't help but love all 4'10" of her, I do miss her terribly!!
    "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

  15. #15
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    Mmmmm.... thanks all. I'm going to wade thru them and see what I can put together. I will probably take a little of each and make it into something I'll love!!!!

    I made my sauce last night and my bf walked in and stated "Oh my god, that smells incredible - can I marry you now?" So I know if I made a real "meaty" sauce he'd probably think he died and went to heaven.

    Thanks again, I'll let you know if what I make is CL worthy:^)

    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  16. #16
    A lot of the recipes for sauce that you see today are Americanized. My grandmother was from Naples and my grandfather from a small town up in Northern Italy and even they clashed over what goes into the pot.

    They did make a big ole pot of sauce every Sunday. Included meatballs, Italian sausages and braciole (she just pound beef thin, sprinkled with basil, salt, pepper and romano cheese and rolled up). The only spice they ever used was fresh basil leaves which didn't get added until close to the end.

    This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is pretty similar except they never used ribs. I did tutor a little boy and his mom (who was born in Italy and always had to feed me) did use some kind of pork.

    Hearty Italian Meat Sauce (Sunday Gravy)
    From Cook's Illustrated.

    Serves 8 to 10

    Sauce
    2tablespoons olive oil
    1rack baby back ribs (about 2 1/4 pounds), cut into 2-rib sections
    Table salt and ground black pepper
    1 pound hot Italian sausage links
    2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
    1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    4 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
    2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (see note)
    2/3 cup beef broth
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

    Meatballs
    2slices hearty white sandwich bread , crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1/2cup buttermilk (see note)
    1/4cup fresh parsley leaves , chopped
    2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
    1 large egg yolk
    1/2teaspoon table salt
    1/4teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1pound meatloaf mix (see note)
    2ounces thinly sliced prosciutto , chopped fine
    1ounce Pecorino Romano cheese , grated (about 1/2 cup)
    1/2cup olive oil

    Pasta
    1 1/2pounds spaghetti or linguine
    2tablespoons table salt
    Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

    1. FOR THE SAUCE: Adjust oven rack to lower- middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat ribs dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add half of ribs to pot and brown on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer ribs to large plate and brown remaining ribs. After transferring second batch of ribs to plate, brown sausages on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer sausages to plate with ribs.


    2. Reduce heat to medium, add onions and oregano; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until very dark, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and broth, scraping up any browned bits. Return ribs and sausage to pot; bring to simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until ribs are tender, about 2½ hours.


    3. FOR THE MEATBALLS: Meanwhile, combine bread cubes, buttermilk, parsley, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and red pepper flakes in medium bowl and mash with fork until no bread chunks remain. Add meatloaf mix, prosciutto, and cheese to bread mixture; mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 12 pieces; roll into balls, transfer to plate, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.


    4. When sauce is 30 minutes from being done, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add meatballs and cook until well browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly. Remove sauce from oven and skim fat from top with large spoon. Transfer browned meatballs to sauce and gently submerge. Cover, return pot to oven, and continue cooking until meatballs are just cooked through, about 15 minutes.


    5. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.


    6. TO SERVE: Using tongs, transfer meatballs, ribs, and sausage to serving platter and cut sausages in half. Stir basil into sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with 1 cup sauce and reserved pasta cooking water so that sauce lightly coats pasta. Serve pasta, passing remaining sauce and meat platter separately.
    Maria

  17. #17
    I have one Italian cookbook that I refer to all the time - The North End Italian Cookbook. I think mainly because my relatives had settled in the North End when they first moved here, so the recipes here are truly what I grew up eating.

    My grandmother rarely wrote things down so it was like finding her own personal recipe file.
    Maria

  18. #18
    I think for all of our benefit, we should collect a gew of these Sunday gravies.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bawstinn View Post
    I have one Italian cookbook that I refer to all the time - The North End Italian Cookbook. I think mainly because my relatives had settled in the North End when they first moved here, so the recipes here are truly what I grew up eating.

    My grandmother rarely wrote things down so it was like finding her own personal recipe file.
    I have that cookbook too...bought it once on a visit back to Boston. I pull it out when I need to find something I consider authentic for my cooking club. Thanks for the reminder as I haven't perused it in a while.

  20. #20
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    My family called it sauce rather than gravy, but it was the same thing: an all-day tomato sauce made with meat. In fact, we'd go to the butcher and ask for "a piece of beef for sauce," and the butcher (Italian, of course) would know we were talking about a tomato sauce and would also know exactly what cut to give us for the sauce. (Chuck, short ribs, or some other full-flavored cut.) If we were also making bracciola, we'd specify, and we'd get the appropriate meat for that, too. Now I do have to choose the cuts myself, not having a real neigborhood butcher.

    Normally, the meats would include both beef and pork -- for the pork, either Italian sausage or pork chops (bone left in to flavor the sauce). Half the time I'd make meatballs instead of bracciola, and then I'd definitely use pork chops rather than have two kinds of ground beef in the sauce.

    Start by browning the meat along with some garlic, and then add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. We never added sugar, and we added the basil at the end. Everyone differed on whether and/or when to use onion. My mother, my Aunt Babe, my Uncle Ralph, and I put a whole peeled onion in with the tomatoes and then took it out after the first hour or two. Others browned onion with the meat and garlic. Using the whole onion, I think, added a certain sweetness to the sauce, which is probably why we never used sugar.

    Anyway, the sauce was open to minor variations -- cuts of meat, meatballs or no meatballs, bracciola or no bracciola, and so on -- but the important, unchanging parts were: meat, garlic, tomatoes, and cook for at least five or six hours. Oh, and clean up the tomato splatters that invariably collect all over the stove. And the wall. And anyone walking by the stove.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ohioan View Post
    -- but the important, unchanging parts were: meat, garlic, tomatoes, and cook for at least five or six hours. Oh, and clean up the tomato splatters that invariably collect all over the stove. And the wall. And anyone walking by the stove.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe


    So true, so true.

    I grew up with my father and step-grandfather (full Italian) making sauce in our kitchen. Being a young kid, it seemed like it cooked all day. I remember they used to give us kids a slice of bread with sauce all over it near the end of the cooking time. They used to let us kids tell them if we thought the sauce was ready or not. We used to feel so important To this day, I can't eat sauce on certain pizzas. They all taste so "raw".

    They had a big oval silver pot that they used. When my sister died some months ago, her daughters gave me the pot. One of the happiest days of my life.

  22. #22
    I can never seem to find just the right recipe either.
    Kim

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkc View Post
    Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian?

    http://www.recipelink.com/mf/31/50929

    Michelle
    That's the book, but the recipe isn't right, I just checked the book and that one starts with short ribs. I'll try to type it out in a bit.

    edited to add: I'm apparently blind, since the recipe at that link *does* include the short ribs. Not sure what was up with me yesterday. Anyway, it's posted below now in any event.
    Last edited by Gilgamesh37; 02-19-2012 at 11:33 AM.
    "Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
    Use an egg carton like everyone else and stop being such a poser." - The Little Book of Wrong Shui

  24. #24
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    SUNDAY GRAVY
    From Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian

    2.5-3 lbs spareribs, separated into ribs, or short ribs
    1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for tossing
    2 onions, minced
    12 cloves garlic, smashed
    1 recipe Braciole (see below)
    1 lb Italian sausage (optional)
    4 28-oz cans peeled plum tomatoes, including liquid
    1/4 cup minced fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
    1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, or 2 tsp dried
    2 bay leaves
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    1 recipe meatballs (see below)
    1 lb pasta

    In a casserole or stockpot, combine the ribs with enough cold water to cover by 2”. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins. Drain. In a 10 quart casserole or stockpot over moderate heat, warm the oil and cook the onions and garlic, stirring frequently, for 5 mins. Add the ribs, braciole, and sausage and cook until they’re browned, 6-8 mins. Add the tomatoes, herbs and salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add the meatballs and cook for 1-2 hrs more. The longer the cooking time, the more concentrated the gravy will be. When the gravy is almost done, cook the pasta until al dente. Remove all of the meat from the sauce and put on a platter. Pour some of the sauce into a gravy boat to serve on the side. Add the pasta to the remaining sauce and toss. (The ingredients can be halved for a smaller yield. However, the sauce freezes well and can be used as a base for braciole)

    Meatballs

    1 cup cubed bread (preferably from an Italian loaf)
    Milk for soaking the bread
    1 lb lean ground beef, such as sirloin
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
    1/2 cup freshly grated romano
    2 large eggs
    Salt and pepper
    3 Tbl olive oil
    4 cups marinara
    2 lbs cooked pasta

    In small bowl, combine the bread with enough milk to just cover and let the bread soak for 10 mins. Squeeze dry and chop fine. In another bowl, combine the bread with the meat, garlic, parsley, cheese, eggs and salt and pepper to taste (you can cook off a small bit to check). Form into 12-14 meatballs about 2.5” in diameter (I like to make them smaller than this) and chill until ready to cook. In a large saucepan or casserole over moderate heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, 5-7 mins. Add the marinara and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. Serve with cooked pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan

    Braciole

    1.5 lbs flank steak, cut and pounded into thin slices about 4”x6”
    Salt and pepper
    1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
    3 Tbl olive oil
    3 cups marinara
    2 lbs cooked pasta

    Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. In a bowl combine the parmesan, garlic and parsley. Divide the mixture among the meat slices, spreading it into an even layer, and roll up each slice to enclose the filling. Secure each roll with string or toothpick. In a casserole over moderately high heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the rolls and cook them, turning, until browned on all sides, about 5 mins. Add the marinara, bring it to a boil and then simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat to a platter and remove the string or toothpicks. Return the meat to the sauce and simmer until heated through. Serve with pasta and freshly grated parmesan.
    "Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
    Use an egg carton like everyone else and stop being such a poser." - The Little Book of Wrong Shui

  25. #25
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    Just be sure to use good canned tomatoes.....DH makes a big pot of gravy (he's Italian) that we freeze into portions. This last batch was really good and he used Cento tomatoes/sauce/paste from Central Market. It makes a difference.
    Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. . .

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by PAMMELA View Post
    Just be sure to use good canned tomatoes.....DH makes a big pot of gravy (he's Italian) that we freeze into portions. This last batch was really good and he used Cento tomatoes/sauce/paste from Central Market. It makes a difference.
    That is very true. Cento is very good. So is Tuttorusso (sp) and Pomi. I've used canned tomatoes before that have made my sauce very acidic. I have an aunt that used to grate a carrot into the oil she sauteed the garlic in so that the sweetness would counteract the acidity.
    Maria

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