Italian Essentials: 3-Meat, Drunken Pasta Sauce

Andy Anderson !


Okay, not really so drunk; however, it does make for a nice recipe title… yes?

This is one of Aunt Josephine’s favorite pasta sauces. I have made a few additions over the years, but her spirit still lives on in this sauce. Thanks Aunt Jo, for your love, and all that you taught me.

Voi Vivi nel mio cuore e nelle mie ricette.
~ You live on in my heart and in my recipes.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.


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15 Min
40 Min
Stove Top



  • 8 oz
    italian sausage, cooked, and sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 2 oz
    thick slab bacon, diced
  • 2 oz
    country ham, diced
  • 1/2 medium
    yellow onion, diced, about 2 - 3 ounces
  • 1 medium
    carrot, grated, about 2 ounces
  • 1 stalk(s)
    celery, finely diced, about 1 - 2 ounces
  • 2 clove
    garlic, sliced as thin as you can manage
  • 1 Tbsp
    tomato paste
  • 1 - 2 pinch
    crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tsp
    dried thyme
  • 2 tsp
    dried basil
  • 1 tsp
    fennel seeds
  • 4 oz
    light beer, not a dark ale
  • 28 oz
    diced tomatoes, 1 large can, or two small cans, with juice
  • 1/2 tsp
    sugar, granulated variety
  • 1/4 c
    parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 Tbsp
    lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ·
    salt, kosher variety, to taste
  • ·
    white pepper, freshly ground, to taste

  • 1/2 tsp
    anchovy paste

How to Make Italian Essentials: 3-Meat, Drunken Pasta Sauce


  2. To make this recipe you will need a good heavy-bottom pot, with a lid, plus a skillet for cooking the sausages.

    Of course, if you want to, you could always cook the sausages in the pot first, reserve them, and then continue on with the rest of the recipe.

    Up to you.
  3. This entire recipe will be cooked at nothing higher than a slow simmer.

    The whole idea is to develop flavor by going low and slow…

    Remember, low and slow is the way to go.
  4. The bacon I am using is what is defined as “thick slab” bacon and is almost 1/4 inch (0.6cm) thick.

    FYI: Bacon is not the “traditional” meat for this dish; it is prosciutto. If you have it, use it; however, bacon is a good substitute, and it is way cheaper.
  5. A lot of you probably freaked out when you saw, anchovies. It is an optional item; however, it adds a bit umami to the dish.

    The word “umami” is Japanese and means “a pleasant savory taste.”
  6. My Aunt Josephine used to slice up the garlic using a razor blade, and when I was old enough to be trusted, the task fell to me.

    If you have ever watched the movie: Goodfellas, there is a scene where they are in prison making pasta sauce, and one of the guys Is using a razor blade to thinly slice the garlic.
  7. The small amount of sugar in this recipe is to counteract the slight bitter taste that can sometimes occur from using canned tomatoes. If you are using brands like: Cento, Carmelina San Marzano, Muir Glen or Sclafani, you might not need any sugar at all. Typically, the cheaper the brand, the more sugar is needed.

    What I usually do is empty the tomatoes into a non-reactive bowl (glass, stainless steel), add a bit of sugar, and taste. Still taste bitter… Add a bit more sugar. If you work slowly, and do not use a lot of sugar, they will not taste sweet; they just will not have that bitter taste.

    FYI: Some off brands of canned tomatoes cannot be saved, so choose your tomatoes wisely.
  8. Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  9. Slice and Dice

    Cube the “thick slab” bacon, and the ham. I usually make the ham cubes a bit smaller.

    And while you are at it get all your veggies ready.

    Work, Work, Work.
  10. Add the sausages to a pan, and slowly cook, then cut into bite-size pieces, and reserve.
  11. Add the bacon to a pot and set the heat to medium low.
  12. Stir until the bacon begins to render its fat, and starts to crisp, about 15 minutes.
  13. Add the ham and stir with the bacon for about 1 minute.
  14. Throw in the veggies.
  15. Stir until they begin to soften, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  16. If the bacon did not render much fat, and the veggies look a bit dry, simply add a tablespoon of olive oil…

    Extra Virgin, of course.
  17. Add the tomato paste, and anchovy paste (if using), and stir for about 1 minute.
  18. Chuck in all the dry spices.
  19. Stir for about 1 minute.
  20. Deglaze with the beer, then drink whatever is left… YES!!!
  21. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any fonds on the bottom of the pot, and let the sauce slowly simmer, for 2 – 3 minutes.
  22. Add the diced tomatoes (along with the sugar), cover, and allow to slowly simmer for 12 – 15 minutes.
  23. Every few minutes, open and give it a stir. Remember you want a slow, slow simmer.
  24. As it simmers, add a bit of salt and pepper, to taste.
  25. Add the Italian sausage and parmesan cheese, then stir uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.

    Add the lemon juice at the very end and stir to combine.
  26. This recipe will last in the fridge for 4 – 6 days, or several months in the freezer.
  28. Serve over pasta, or just put it in a bowl with some nice crusty Italian bread on the side. Enjoy.
  29. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

Printable Recipe Card

About Italian Essentials: 3-Meat, Drunken Pasta Sauce

Course/Dish: Pasta
Main Ingredient: Vegetable
Regional Style: Italian
Dietary Needs: Dairy Free Soy Free

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