Solera/Shelsey Secret Spaghetti Sauce

A chilly fall day here which is perfect for making a batch of spaghetti sauce.  There must be thousands of Italian red sauce recipes but I will share this secret sauce recipe that has been in the Solera/Shelsey family for at least 100 years and is definitely a family treasure. It’s also the starting point for all that’s Italian – spaghetti & meatballs, lasagna, chicken Parmesan… and it was always served in some form with every family meal.  You have a Thanksgiving turkey or an Easter ham, there’s a side of lasagna.
Years ago, my husband was worried that the sauce recipe would be lost for future generations so he sat with his mother as she made it, measuring out each ingredient.  His mother as my mother did, rarely referenced recipes, relying on years of experience in the kitchen.  Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I let John believe that the true secret of the recipe was that it had to be made by Solera hands (mine are of French heritage so red sauce wouldn’t be quite right).  Since a batch of sauce takes care of about a week’s worth of meals this was a great way to get out of cooking for a while.
So this great sauce is in honor and memory of Mary Shelsey Solera.
Mary Shelsey Solera

Please feel free to play with the ingredients to suit your tastes as I have now that John has caught on to me.  I add some fresh basil & parsley when I have it and prefer sweet sausage but if you like spicey, go with that for the sausage.  Just a word of warning though… do NOT mess with the Pastene ground peeled tomatoes!  I’m not sure why, but that’s critical to the success of this recipe and Mom Solera would not want her name associated with any sauce that used any other brand or type.  Believe me, I was sent back to the store to get the right brand and type and will never make that mistake again.

3-4    Sweet sausage links, remove casing
3-4    Cloves minced garlic
2    28 oz. Cans Pastene ground peeled tomatoes
1    Tablespoon sugar or ¼ cup sweet cooking sherry
4    Bay leaves, parsley, oregano, basil to taste
Parmesan cheese

Crumble sausage meat, brown in heavy sauce pan over med heat with garlic
(Any remaining sausages can be par-boiled while making sauce & added later)
After sausage meat is just cooked, add 1 can of tomatoes
Add sugar or sherry
Stir in a small handful of parmesan cheese
Add bay leaves & sprinkle basil, oregano, & basil to taste
If making meatballs, add to sauce & par-boiled sausages
Let sauce simmer on low, should be just bubbling lightly (sauce screen recommended), stir occasionally
Add 2nd can of tomatoes as sauce boils down & thickens