There couldn’t be a more appetizing picture for me than a pot of any of Italy’s many tomato based pasta sauces. Add a regional spin to them and now I’m even more excited. Today is Sant’Innocenzo Day in my paternal grandfather, INNOCENZO SCARAMUZZI’s Southern Italian town of his birth. He lived in Grassano, Matera, Basilicata until he immigrated to NYC at the age of 25 in 1915. What better day than September 22 to share a sauce that comes from his region? FYI, not sure if he ever made this as Basilicata is a region with 2 provinces, Potenza (West) and Matera (East) and this sauce is made in and around both Provinces. Potenza is probably where it’s native to. It’s called in proper Italian… SUGO L’INTOPPO….in Basilicata or Lucanian dialect it’s called ‘NTRUPPC. Sidebar here for a second…reasons why Italians are always arguing that THEIR version of any is the right one is because there’s never ONE definition, word, or pronunciation ,let’s just nod our heads and say, “I got it.” Please do not call it a meat sauce or Bolognese or Ragu’Napoletano because there are many similaries in method and ingredients but there are some differences that make it a wonderfully unique regional sauce. I will, on this patronal feast day remember my grandfather by blogging a wonderful sauce from his region. What better way for a grandson who cooks and reveres his grandfather’s memory then to blog a new recipe for you all? Right? I thought so…Let’s cook.
SUGO L’INTOPPO or LU ‘NTROPPC…..SAUCE WITH OBSTACLES or A HITCH…what does that mean? no idea…i’ll guess maybe all the meats in it are being called obstacles SINCE, most Pasta dishes in Italy serve the meats from their sauce as a secondo. Here the meats are served in the pasta so, they are “obstacles” to the pasta…That’s my thoughts and I’m sticking with them. ENJOY!!
1 1/2 LBS SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGE sliced or removed from their casings
1/2 LB STEW BEEF, MINCED
1/4 LB VEAL STEW, MINCED
6 14 oz CANS OF IMPORTED ITALIAN POMODORINI (most come from Potenza which is probably where this sauce originated), or 3 28 oz Cans of San Marzano DOP tomatoes.
1/4 cup OLIVE OIL
2 DICED MEDIUM ONIONS (Don’t even think of adding garlic)
1 TSP PEPERONCINO (DRIED RED CHILE FLAKES)
HANDFUL OF FRESH BASIL
In a large heavy stock pot heat a 1/2 the olive oil and sear all the meats until they are nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl or platter and add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and rapidly stir them around..why?The liquid in the onions will release all the nice caramelized bits from the meats at the bottom of the pan. It will also give the onions some color and flavor.Add some sea salt and the peperoncino. Slowly cook this until the onions are soft, NOT BROWNED. When the onions are soft, should take about 10 minutes…then add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a boil then add the meats, bring down to a simmer. Add some basil. Pinch of salt. Let this simmer for 3 hours stirring occasionally. Drop in the remaining basil leaves and let the sauce sit for about 2 hours before using. Done.
Now what pasta is most traditional? STRASCINATI which you can make or buy in good Italian markets and pork stores. It’s a flour/semolina and water rustic pasta that resembles a stretched out orecchiette or cavatelli. BTW, in lieu of STRASCINATI orecchiette or cavatelli are fine .plenty of PECORINO ROMANO over the servings.The finished dish using STRASCINATI I bought in a local Salumeria (Italian Pork Store). Fantastic!!!
The recipe yields enough sauce for up to 3 lbs of Pasta.
Enjoy this view I snapped while coming down the road from Grassano in 2008.