This is a very old Pelliccia family recipe that my dear father has consented to promote on the interwebs via my blog. Consider yourselves quite lucky, because this meal is a real treat!
The recipe was created by my great-grandmother Rosa, a southern Italian from Vico Equense whose family immigrated in the late 1860s on their very own vessel. She married my great-grandfather, Orlando, whose family was from Verni, a small town in northern Italy right outside of Lucca. I was actually fortunate enough to meet this branch of our family a few years ago, where we learned that Orlando was born in the Puccini house. No one knows why, but it’s our claim to fame!
“Nonna” means grandmother in Italian, which is where the name “Nonnie sauce” comes from. My dad and his siblings were far too American for such a complicated Italian word.
This is not your average sauce, which should be obvious because I don’t promote just anything on my culinary adventures. I have standards, people.
The real key is the cinnamon that is added to the meat balls. It may sound a tad strange, but you will thank Nonnie once you taste it and realize her true brilliance!
You will need:
2 28 oz cans of plum tomatoes
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 bone-in pork chops, thick cut
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 lb hamburger meat
5 tsp sugar
1 slice good, stale white bread, rubbed between hands into bread crumbs
1/2 c grated parmesan
5 good shakes of ground cinnamon
S & P
To get started, dry the pork chops and brown them in a hot dutch oven pan with a bit of oil (1-2 T). Pork is fairly fatty and will provide most of the oil you’ll need to keep it from sticking, so you don’t need to add as much to the pan as you would for chicken.
After they are nice and brown, add the onion and garlic and lower the heat to medium. Add the bay leaf.
After the onions have softened, add all the tomatoes and S & P to taste.
My sister Emily is very excited to be holding a can of the finest tomatoes. It was the highlight of her Saturday evening (she’s obviously not old enough to pound a few drinks during cocktail hour, so she gets her kicks where she can).
While the sauce cooks
You can work on the meatballs! Add all of the ingredients to a bowl.
Since ground beef gets very tough if worked too much, I would suggest mixing the other ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding it to the meat. This will help you get consistency without doing too much kneading.
Mix everything together (don’t over mix!!) and form about 1 in balls. Set them aside to add to the sauce later.
The sauce should cook for about 3-4 hours, so it’s a good idea to either prepare these closer to the end or pop them into the fridge until you’re ready for them.
After a few hours, gently add the meatballs to the sauce. This should occur about 30 minutes before you intend to eat, since it only takes a half hour for them to fully cook.
You can also encourage your younger sisters to do the work for you, while the parental figure supervises and you enjoy a beer:
Do NOT stir the simmering sauce for at least 10 minutes, or else the meatballs will break apart. Be very gentle when you do stir it!
When you have 10 minutes to go, cook your spaghetti:
When you’re all set, pour yourself some nice red wine and settle in for major noms!
I’ve been having a lot of fun with my hipstamatic camera app. Aren’t I just so artsy?