About this recipe

Sugo is the Italian word for sauce. Perfect sugo includes a little beef, a little pork, and maybe a little chicken (but definitely no veal). The father of the household usually makes sugo on Sunday afternoons while the rest of the family goes to church. He then serves it Sunday evenings for dinner—this makes for a great tradition.


Place a large saucepot on the stove; turn heat to just under medium and fry:

  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil,
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (minced, or added whole and removed before browning).

Before the garlic burns, add:

  • ½ lb. ground beef (use meatball mixture if you can),
  • 1 lb. stewing beef,
  • 1 lb. Italian sausages (cut in half) or a strip of pork spareribs (cut into 2-3 rib pieces),
  • 2 tbsp. basil, 1 tbsp. salt, 1½-2 tsp. chili pepper, and 1 tsp. marjoram (optional).

Let the meat brown for 10-15 minutes, and then add:

Reduce heat, cover, and let wine absorb into meat for 15 minutes. Remove lid, turn heat back up, and cook another 15 minutes until the wine has almost evaporated. Then add:

  • 4 (28 oz.) cans plum tomatoes (either hand-squashed or blended),
  • 2 cans water (use the tomato cans—add enough to cover your meat),
  • 2 stalks celery, 
  • 1 large carrot (peeled), 
  • 1 whole onion (peeled).

Bring to a boil. When boiling, turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add:

  • 1 (5 oz.) can tomato paste (first whisked in water).

Continue to simmer another 2½ hours. When the sauce is ready, discard the celery, carrot, and onion.


  • Try to add a couple of beef bones with the meat.
  • When the sauce is ready, skim off any excess oil sitting on top.
  • Sometimes you fry the sausage first to reduce its fat (depends, depends, depends).
  • You could also add some skinless chicken pieces (e.g., breasts) with the meatballs. If the chicken or ribs begin to fall apart, remove from sauce and add back later.
    P.S. Tradition says you can never overcook a sauce. Some folks even shut it off, go out for a while, and then come back and simmer it some more. Remember, you can always add water.

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