Work Family: Pasta Maker & Sauce

It has been 13 years since I started working at the Harrahs casino with my work family and over the years we have been through everything, from birthdays, weddings, deaths in the families and even babies being born. Of course as everyone knows sometimes you see your work family more than you see your own family so you can’t help but love them or yeah even hate em sometimes, but that’s family for you.

So it had to be at the start of my time at Harrahs that my work daughter gave me the best birthday present ever. I had been talking about wanting to make homemade pasta ever since the little ole Italian grandmother of the bunch had given me her recipe for homemade pasta sauce, which by the way she made me promise to never give it out to anyone (so hush, I made some modifications and now it’s my sauce). So on my birthday she hands me a pasta maker and I was thrilled to say the least, but alas I never got around to making pasta that year. I didn’t get around to making pasta at all through an ankle surgery, and two moves, until now when this pandemic had us in lock-down.

Now after 13 years, yes I pulled out that pasta maker and I learned not only how to make fresh pasta, which by the way is the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted. After figuring out how to get the contraption to actually stay on the counter and finding the perfect recipe, which I’m not even going to copy, because there are so many recipes out there it was crazy but after doing a huge search I found one at “The Spruce Eats” which was perfect for me cause it made enough for 2 and hey it’s only me.

Next up was now taking that mixture of ingredients that this grandma gave me, that didn’t even have any sort of measurements for me to use….what the heck…right! So what’s the internet for, I started doing some research just to at least get some measurements or something to help me figure out how much of everything I should use. Just like pasta recipes you got a million sauce recipes, all kinds of sauce recipes, but at least I had a starting point on how much of anything I should use. After all that I was ready to make my own tomato sauce.

I tried this recipe both ways with just the canned tomatoes and also just using fresh tomatoes. I like them both and my goal is to next time get some really fresh tomatoes from the farmers market one Saturday and see if the flavors differ from the store bought tomatoes.Fresh Tomatoes

I also tried it with Italian sausage and bone-in pork chops (its an Italian thing). This will come down to your taste and your time, as the sauce made with the pork chops will take a little longer, but the flavor will be so intense. I used some Jalapeño Bacon from Hormel’s that I found which added a layer of heat to the sauce which was awesome. I also made this sauce without meat and the bacon to be used in a veggie lasagna I made (maybe I’ll post that one day). 20200404_102953-1

Regardless of however I made it, I wanted to do like Chef Robert Irvine  and do the happy dance in the kitchen. It was perfect and I will always have some in the freezer, because yes it freezes very well along with the fresh pasta after a short cook time. The recipe that follows will be the one using canned tomatoes and your choice of meat.

My Tomato Sauce

  • 16 oz Tomato Paste (2 8oz cans)
  • 2 cans Plum Tomatoes (28oz )
  • 1 ½ pound crumbled Italian Sausage or 4 bone-in Pork Chops
  • 4 slices Jalapeño Bacon chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped Onion
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp ground Anise (secret ingredient)
  • 1 ½ cups Water (more if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  1. Melt the butter and oil in Dutch oven pot over medium heat
  2. Add bacon and cook till done and a little crisp
  3. Add the onion and garlic cook till lightly colored
  4. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste along with the water
  5. Add in all the seasoning, stirring mixture to combine
  6. Add in your choice of sausage or pork chops
  7. Cook over medium to low heat up to 1 hour until meat is done
  8. Stirring occasionally

***To use fresh tomatoes 1-2 pounds of Fresh Tomatoes, peeled, cored and rough chopped 1 1/2 pounds of Roma Tomatoes, peeled, cored and rough chopped and use the tomato paste and a little more water, will cook a little longer and will make a nice chunky sauce. 

I really had fun making the pasta and the sauce, this will be one of these things I will always try to have on hand to make. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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