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Pasta done right: Classic Italian angel hair pasta marinara with smoked Italian sausage meatballs

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by browneyesvictim, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Who doesn’t love spaghetti? And, if you have ever had the REAL THING you know there is a difference between real Italian pasta marinara and that premade “stuff” in a jar you get off the shelf at the grocery store. Making exceptional “spaghetti” really is pretty simple and SOOO worth not taking any shortcuts even if you want a quick meal. It starts with quality ingredients, and the star of the show is the TOMATO! Don’t kid yourself into thinking “all tomatoes taste the same”. If you follow these steps and give this a try, I am confident you will be a believer!

    It starts with the tomato. And the first thing you need to have in your hands is arguably the best tomato for sauces on the planet! This is the Italian SAN MARZANO tomato. There are many labels under which you can buy San Marzano tomatoes. But beware there is a lot of hub-bub about authenticity, and the need for Product Designation of Origin (DOP) stamp by the EU that are given to genuine San Marzano tomatoes grown in a specific region of Italy (Pomodoro S. Marzano Dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino) in the volcanic soil under Mount Vesuvius. In my opinion any brand of San Marzano is good enough, but just don’t be fooled by labels that say “San Marzano STYLE”. Better yet, if you can GROW them yourself, or get them fresh at a farmers market. (I have a few plants growing this year! Yeay!)

    What I use that I like is the Carmelina brand. I get them by the case now on Amazon. But I have also seen them- and the Cento brand San Marzano’s at Wal-Mart. If I am making pasta or pizza sauce… this is it! I prefer the tomatoes whole, not chopped, sliced or processed in any other way.
    San Marzano.jpg

    I start with softening some medium chopped onions with some garlic in olive oil in a pot over medium heat. I add a dash of salt here only. Once the onions are translucent they are ready, but don’t let them and the garlic brown. The can is opened and dumped in the pot with the onions and garlic uncovered, to simmer on medium stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula occasionally. You will be REALLY tempted to want to break up the whole tomatoes, but don’t do it! Let the heat and simmering do the work of breaking them down. I will add one whole sprig of FRESH Basil to the tomatoes while they simmer and break down. This should take 35-45 minutes at the most and depending on you heat level. If you have tomato sauce bubbles popping and splattering out of the pot and making a mess, you are too hot. It should look something like this simmering. This is just one 28 OZ. can for just my wife and I, but I sometimes will make more for leftovers to take for lunch.

    The last ingredient is a little bit of good hard cheese like Parmesan or Asiago. This is one of my new favorites.

    asiago cheese.jpg
    I grated less than ¼ cup directly into the sauce. The sauce should be OFF the heat when you add the cheese at the end, but enough residual heat for it to melt and incorporate into the sauce. There is no need for additional salt, sugar, or any other ingredients or spices.


    I just rolled up some homemade Italian Sausage (link here) into golf ball sizes. I then just sprinkled a pinch of Italian Seasoning on each one. I put them in my MES smoker with a handful of cherry chips at 275’ for about an hour to get a little smoke on them. Then they went under the broiler for a few minutes to finish and get some color.


    The noodles for this one are Barilla boxed angel hair. I do have a pasta press that I love to use, but I wasn’t in the mood to get that all out this time. Perhaps making fresh pasta will be for another thread. Boil in plenty of water with a little salt (to season) and a splash of oil (to prevent noodles from sticking).


    Drain. DO NOT RINSE your noodles! Some folks will toss their noodles with a little bit of olive oil or butter. I do this for certain noodle dishes, but the idea here is to leave them a dry, and you want the noodles to soak up some of the liquid in your sauce for that perfect texture and pure unadulterated tomato taste.


    Here we have the plated pasta marinara family style.


    And here with the meatballs, some more grated Asiago cheese and dusted with some fresh parsley (Actually, more fresh Basil chiffonade is better!).

    Enjoy! Perfecto!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  2. xray

    xray Smoking Fanatic

    Excellent write up! Your pasta looks delicious!! I feel full just looking at it!

    You could always add the cheese rind to the sauce and take out before serving. My grandmother used to do this with parmesan...she also used to hit me upside the head when I was a kid because I would pick through the sauce to take the basil out...I’m much better now.

  3. yankee2bbq

    yankee2bbq Smoking Fanatic

    That’s awesome! Great write up!
  4. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Awesome thread!
    I bookmarked it for further use.
    I will definitely try your pasta sauce, & we make our own pasta too!
  5. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Thank you xray and for the like. It is SOOOO easy to overeat on that stuff! My cheese doesn't have a rind, but that is a great idea! Did you NOT like the basil and picked it out, or you wanted it all for yourself? I used to drop in a few whole Bay leaves (and a ton of other spices when I used cheap flavorless tomatoes) and that was a "pick out the leaf" thing too like that. In fact if you got some on your plate, that meant you had to wash dishes.

    Thanks Yankee, and for the like.

    Thanks Al for the like. I just know you will love it. It convinced me after the I tried them the first time. It is hard to find good tomatoes anymore. They all seem so flavorless. I have been making my own sauce.... well I guess ever since mom taught me as a kid. Back then we grew and canned (jarred) our own plum tomatoes. I wish I could remember the variety that was back then...
  6. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I missed this somehow. Very nice!
    I just went and bought a few cans of San Marzano. I remembered having a discussion with someone about the real and the not so real cans of those. Well, I saw this thread.. Very nice! IMG_20180725_092948.jpg IMG_20180725_092955.jpg IMG_20180725_093011.jpg
    browneyesvictim likes this.
  7. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Those look legit to me Johnny! Ahhhhh… Im hungry and drooling thinking bout these again.
    Whatcha gonna make? BTW, that makes an outstanding sauce for pizza and calzones too.
  8. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I'm thinking lasagna if it's cool one weekend. I will make a giant pan with the Italian sausage homemade sauce.

    Vac seal a bunch for future meals. :)