From Farmer Mo: Now, I am not Italian, and I do not claim to be, but I definitely aspire to be able to cook like a Nonna. One of my best friends learned to cook Sunday Sauce from her Nonna and even though she can’t tell me the exact secrets, I have put enough research and love into this recipe that I can confidently say my sauce should make any Nonna proud.
This recipe, as well as my Pasta alla Genovese recipe showcases one of my favourite cuts of meat off any animal – The shoulder aka the chuck, aka flavour town. What makes chuck so delightful you ask? Well, it contains a good amount of different muscle groups which means that it contains a wonderful amount of collagen and intramuscular fat and when cooked low and it slow it melts down and adds an incredible amount of flavour to whatever you are cooking – magic!
The ingredient list for both this sauce and my Pasta alla Genovese are minimal, and the cooking methods very similar, but the results are completely different. This recipe is tomato based, while Pasta alla Genovese relies on onion as the base of the sauce. I made these two sauces on the same day and the next day we had a pasta night with two types of pasta – it was very exciting, and we were all very well fed for a few days.
Disclaimer: There will not be a final photo of the dishes as they were just too good to remember to take a photo – but there are many happy Spray Creek farmers who can vouch for the glory of these sauces.
Also, please note that I used veal and beef chuck steaks for this – but you can certainly use all beef or all veal. For this sauce you could also sub in about 4 pounds of pork shoulder steaks.
Two days Before you want to eat – defrost the steaks. A cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet works perfectly, but a plate is fine too, just remember to flip the meat a few times.
Once defrosted – liberally salt meat on all sides: salting the meat in advance like this leads to a more flavourful taste experience. I do this with any meat anytime I am smart enough to remember to do it in advance. Kosher salt is best, but if you only have table salt just be careful not to over-salt.
Remove the meat from the fridge an hour or so before cooking and let it rest on the counter while you are preparing the veggies.
2 chuck steaks (beef, veal, or one of each)
2 large cans of tomatoes
4 carrots (roughly 3 cups finely diced)
6 celery (roughly 3 cups finely diced)
2 onions (roughly 3 cups finely diced)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (not essential but adds depth in flavour)
- Heat some oil in your pot (a dutch oven works great) over medium-high heat. Once hot add one of the chuck steaks and brown it on both sides. Be patient and make sure you get a nice brown crust – this flavour is essential to the sauce. Add more oil if necessary and brown the second chuck steak. Once both steaks are browned, set aside them on a plate.
- Add more oil to the pan if necessary, and add carrots, celery, and onions. Cook down/brown till reduced by at least half in size – around 20 – 30 mins.
- Add tomato paste and brown for another couple minutes.
- Add cans of tomatoes and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium low and add back in the steaks. Simmer for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender.
- Remove the meat from the pot and shred, discarding the bone as well as any gristle that has not broken down in cooking.
- Add shredded meat back into sauce.
- Salt to taste and add a bit more olive oil (I suggest 2 Tbs.)
- Simmer for another 20 – 30 mins on low.
Serve with pasta. The sauce will be even better reheated the day after cooking
p.s. Leftovers are incredible in a sandwich, or you can even add beans, chilli powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano for a chilli (just don’t tell your Nonna I said this)