Sugu (Pasta Sauce)

This is orginally my grandmother’s recipe (and I’m sure great-grandmother’s as well and so on). My moms side of the family immigrated to the United States from Sicily in the early 1900s. I’ve adapted and changed the recipe some, but the base is still very much the orginal.

I made a big, double batch on Christmas Eve to freeze for later, and to use for Bracoli on Christmas Day for dinner! This recipe is for one batch, which fills about 3 pint (16 oz) canning jars. Feel free to double or triple it as needed. The extras can be canned or frozen. I like to freeze the extras.


6 lbs can of tomatoes (fresh works too)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red pepper flake
1 tbsp black pepper
1/3 cup lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp parsley
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves
1 pig foot (2 pork spare ribs work well too)
Parmesan ends
2 bay leaves
1 medium carrot


Start by prepping your ingredients and getting everything chopped up. The chopping doesn’t need to be precise. Chop the onion into medium size chucks and just squash the garlic cloves. You’ll need a large stock pot or a couple smaller pots.

Saute onions, garlic, and red pepper in olive oil on medium heat until soft and fragrant. I just happened to have a little nub of leek leftover from another recipe that I chopped up and threw in as well. The leek isn’t necessary.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the tomatoes and stir.

Let the tomatoes cook for 10 minutes.

Add the basil, parsley, oregano, black pepper, lemon juice, and parmesan ends. Stir. The lemon juice isn’t traditional in my grandmother’s recipe, but I add it. I find it adds a subtle sourness that brings some brightness to the sauce.

Let this mixture cook for 10 minutes.

Add the pig foot and stir. I had to use pork spare ribs in this case because I uses my pigs feet already for another recipe and didn’t make it to the butcher to get more feet. A foot is preferred because that’s what’s traditional in my grandmother’s recipe, but spare ribs (or even a bone in pork chop) will work just as well. You just need the bone, cartilage, and fat. It adds and lusciousness to the sauce. The only reason to leave it out is if you’re wanting to make the sauce vegetarian/vegan.

Let the sauce cook for 10 minutes.

Break the carrot into 3 pieces and add to the sauce. Add the bay leaves and stir.

Let this cook with a lid on (but slightly off) for an hour.

After an hour, stir and scrape the bottom.

Use a potato masher (or the back of a spoon) to crush the whole tomatoes. I don’t use a blender, because I like the small chunks of tomato. If you don’t like chunks, try to avoid the blender and just keep mashing. The sauce will reduce more and you won’t even really notice the chucks.

Stir the sauce.

Let this cook with a lid on (but slightly off) for an hour. Stir and scrape the bottom and sides. Adjust the heat if you notice the bottom of the pot is getting too hot or crusty.

Repeat stirring and scraping every half hour for 3-4 hours or until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3.

Taste the sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Stir.

Remove the bay leaves, pig foot, and parmesan ends.

Allow to cool before canning for freezing. The sauce can also be used immediately.

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