Sep 29, 2011

Chuck's Spaghetti Sauce

"Pap" Sarrio
In 1972 when I met this man and his family I quickly learned one thing. I had better love tomatoes. Oh, not the way we southern girls love them, sliced, on a sandwich, on top of rice, or fried. I had better love them with tons of garlic, oregano, basil, and preferably in a sauce.  These sauces covered every imaginable kind of pasta and pizza.

Chuck from a very young age lived in Pennsylvania.  His Great Grandfather came to the U.S., Ellis Island to be exact. Chuck called him Pap.  He spoke very little English I am told. Chuck says he never spoke English to him, but they did communicate. I think he must have been quite the character from what I have been told.  I really would have loved to meet him.

Chuck's mother Jackie lived near the Sarrio's and learned to cook some of the traditional sauces. I can remember from the first day that woman cooked for me loving everything she made for sure. My friends from school would come over with me to visit Chuck and we would eat, and eat and eat. They and I remember some of the best of food and times at their house. You had to eat it was required and we sure didn't mind. She had patterned her sauce after the elder Sarrio Sauces and it was so indescribably delicious. They made their sauce really thin, and I can remember wanting to drink it, it was so good. Chuck and I like ours a little thicker.  He has agreed to share this sauce that we love so much.  I have to say, I have made this recipe and it is just not the same.  He must do something magical I can't explain it.  Hope it turns out well for you.

Chuck chopping onions and bell peppers.
He takes a long time chopping, maybe that is the secret. He does it with such love.

Chuck in his Steelers apron. He has a great love for his team, terrible towel and all. I guess that may stem from living in Pennsylvania, but maybe not; I love them too, especially Troy Polamalu.

minced garlic in olive oil

The sauce in the pot ready to simmer

Villa Romana was made in Italy from my Ratliff household.
We love these pasta bowls for everything. 

The finished product I wish you could taste!


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, 1 1/2 cups approx., chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers
1 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves or use from jar of minced garlic)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 (28 oz.) cans whole, that you crush or crushed tomatoes. (We use 4 pints of home-canned tomatoes they are the best for sure when you can't get fresh cooking tomatoes.)
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups water
1 to 2 lbs of ground chuck
1 package of ground mild Italian sausage 
*(Johnsonville or you can use links but remove casings to pull apart and brown)
1/4 cup Pepperoni, finely chopped
2 small cans chopped mushrooms or  3/4 cup chopped fresh
1/4 to 1/2 cup Rhine Wine   

Be sure to cook the alcohol out at medium boil for at least 5 minutes. This sauce is to be simmered for a long time which will help take some of the alcohol out. You may leave the wine out if you wish.


Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, onions, peppers, salt, black pepper, oregano, and basil, saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft and clear not browned.  Drain remove from pan.
Brown ground chuck and Italian sausage.  Drain
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar, add onion mixture from the frying pan, browned meats, and chopped pepperoni in a large pot. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add wine
Bring up heat to a slight boil with the lid off to cook some alcohol out.  Be very careful this mixture can pop and burn. Lower heat to just a light simmer. Simmer, covered, or uncovered your choice, at least 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
We find it better if you simmer on low all afternoon.  Keep watch so it will not stick and burn.

You can also cook on low all day in a crockpot. After you have boiled, put it in the crock.
This sauce is good for about 3 days in the refrigerator or you may freeze it for about 3 months.  If you have any left. 
This sauce gets better and better every time you reheat it. The old-fashioned way is best to reheat in a pot on the stove. This makes a big pot full so it could easily feed 12 or more people. You could make a day or two in advance and just reheat to serve with freshly made pasta of your choice.

What Happens to the Alcohol?

Conventional wisdom holds that after a few minutes of cooking, the alcohol in the wine evaporates. That's not exactly the case. Research from the USDA shows that 85 percent of the alcohol remains after the wine is added to a boiling liquid and then removed from the heat. The longer a dish is cooked, however, the less alcohol remains. If a food is baked or simmered 15 minutes, 40 percent of the alcohol will remain; after one hour, only 25 percent remains; after 2 1/2 hours, just 5 percent. But since wine does not have a large amount of alcohol to begin with (generally 12 to 14 percent), the final amount of alcohol in a dish is not a problem for most people.
By Karen MacNeil



  1. Ah this is the wrong time to be visiting your blog! I just sat down with a big bowl of spaghetti only my sauce is Ragu. =[

    This looks and sounds so delicious! My husband's grandma and mom are both full blooded Italian so my husband can't eat any spaghetti sauce but theirs. When I make spaghetti, he just eats his plain with Parmesan cheese, lol.

  2. Angie, I'm glad you came to visit today. Ragu is pretty good to me..I'll bet your husband's family sauce is great....Come back anytime. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. I can't wait to make this, and it looks fabulous! Thank you for posting it. =)


  4. Thanks Vicki, hope you enjoy it, Chuck will be pleased if you do cook it...

  5. Oh Dolly! I love your sauce story and how generous of Chuck to share his recipe! Blogging sure makes the world a smaller place for sharing doesn't it?
    Thank you both!

  6. Thank you Deb! It is fun to share on these blogs.

  7. This recipe looks fantastic! I am going to try to make it in the morning. I have one last bounty of fresh tomatoes from my garden.

    p.s. I am a football FANatic and I like Troy and the Steelers, though I am a RAIDER fan by birthright. Good luck this season!

  8. Made today, excited for dinner. Looks delish.

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I'll tell him and he will be excited. You know the great thing about home cooking is that we can change and add anything we wish that makes it our own family traditions. Thanks Kim!

  9. Thanks Dolly I pinned this to make this weekend.