Because You Asked For It

Some friends who have been kind enough to read my new blog have made a content suggestion: RECIPES! Since I love to cook (and eat, and feed others), that’s a great idea. Here’s a Migliaccio family recipe that I adapted for a crock pot. If you don’t have a crock pot, it’ll work in a stew pot on top of the stove, but monitor the heat carefully – nothing’s worse than scorched sauce.

Also note that since I wing this every time I make it, measurements are approximate.


Turn your crock pot on HIGH. Open two 28 oz. cans of tomato puree and pour into the crock pot.

Take approximately 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of hot or sweet Italian sausage and slice into coins approximately 1/2 inch wide. Brown in a large skillet, then drain and add drained sausage to the crock pot.

In the same skillet, brown about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef, along with crushed garlic, oregano, basil, cracked fennel and hot red pepper flakes to taste. Drain off the fat and add to the crock pot.

If you have a nice pork bone, brown that and toss it into the crock pot as well (the meat remaining on the bone, as well as the marrow, adds an additional depth of flavor. Take the bone out before serving). *

I usually adjust the acidity of the tomato puree with about a half-teaspoon of sugar. I have also been known to add a healthy splash of red wine to the mix. I don’t use a lot of salt; John doesn’t like a lot of salt so I just add what I want at the table.

Once the sauce has begun to bubble, give it a good stir, cover the pot, lower the heat and let it simmer for several hours. I usually make mine in the morning and let it simmer until dinnertime. If you’re home during the day, taste the sauce periodically and adjust the seasonings as you like. My husband swears that the best way to do this is to scoop up some of the sauce on a nice piece of Italian bread.

You’ll notice that I don’t add onions, peppers, mushrooms or any of that fol-de-rol to the sauce. First, my husband would shriek and call me a “mayonnaise-face” (his family’s term for anyone not Italian); secondly, this is a straightforward meat sauce. I find that onions make the sauce too sweet; all the rest add their own peculiarities. You, of course, can do what you want with it.

* A lot of folks have quizzed me about what kind of bone to use – since we make our own sausage, we keep the bones from the pork butt (a cut of meat that some also call a pork shoulder roast) and use them. Pork neckbones, which are generally available at the meat counter, will also work, but I’m not crazy about them since they tend to fall apart in the sauce. Get cozy with the guy behind the meat counter and see if he’ll save you some shoulder bones.


  1. Joan L.

    You have made me hungry. You have also given me an idea for dinner tonight, if I can only find Eric’s crockpot. Now I want your recipe for the cucumber (or u-cumber) dip we had when we visited. I can’t remember what was in it, but I think it had garlic. I also want your recipe for making your own sausages.. See what you have started!!

  2. Tom

    I would like to testify that this sauce is easy to make and even more delicious than Donna makes it out to be. I couldn’t find pork butt bones so I’ve used pork neck bones when I’ve made this. Sometimes you can find nice meaty ones which won’t fall apart too much during the cooking process. If you don’t wish to strain your sauce for bone fragments, tie the neck bones in some cheesecloth.

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