Day Before the Celebration

Everyday Divas Celebrations
with Mimi and Sue
Italian Pot Luck

Vodka Sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat in a large saucepan until slightly shimmering.
  • 4  oz cubed prosciutto
Add to olive oil over medium high heat and sauté until the browned, the fat has rendered and the meat is fragrant.
  • 1/2 sweet onion
Finely chop and add to the olive oil and prosciutto.  Sauté until transluscent.
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Add to oninion and prosciutto.  Sauté until fragrance of thyme is released.​
  • 1  cup good vodka
Add to onions and prosciutto and rapidly boil until the alcohol aroma has dissipated and the vodka has almost completely evaporated.
  • 2​  28 oz cans whole peeled plum tomatoes
Drain and crush with your hands into a bowl.  Add to the saucepan with the onions and prosciutto.  Simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.  Check frequently to make sure all the liquid hasn't boiled down.  Lower heat if liquid is evaporating.​  Allow to cool and then blend in a blender until smooth.  Return to saucepan.
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups half and half
Add to saucepan.  Taste add additional thyme,red pepper flakes, salt and pepper as desired.  (I added 1 tsp thyme, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt).  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir, turn the heat off allow to cool covered.  When cool place in a sealed plastic container in​ the refrigerator.
Sausage Sauce for Meatballs

  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat on medium low in a large sauce pan until slightly shimmering.
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links
Add to sauce pan and evenly brown on all sides.  Make sure you don't burn the sausage.  When brown remove from sauce pan and pour off all of the fat.
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat on medium low until slightly shimmering.
  • 1 large sweet onion
Coarsely chop and add to the olive oil.  Sauté until translucent.
  • 3-4 garlic cloves chopped
Add to onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the fragrance of the cloves releases.
  • 2  28 oz cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (crushed with your hands)
  • 2  8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • browned sausage links
  • a few twists of freshly ground pepper
Add to sauce pan​.  Simmer over low heat, slightly uncovered.  You do not want the sauce to boil rapidly.
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 lb divided equally between pork and veal
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3/4 + cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 + cup parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 + cup parlsey chopped
  • 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ladles of sausage sauce
Mix ingredients with your hands.  If the mixture feels too wet and like it won't hold it's shape add equal amounts of more grated cheese and flavored bread crumbs.​

Form balls of about 1 1/2 inches around and place on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate the meatballs for 15 minutes.

Lightly sauté in olive oil.  Only put 8 meatballs at a time in the sauté pan at a time.  Do not let them get a thick crust.  Drain on paper towels then gently place in sausage sauce.  
  • 8 basil leaves
Lay on top of the sauce and stir in right before reheating to serve.​

I do not add prosciutto or any other meat to my vodka sauce.  I also do not include dried red pepper flakes or dried thyme.  If I am making the sauce for a celebration, I use cream. If it's just for my husband and me, I'll use 1/2 and 1/2.  I also flavor the oil with garlic cloves and then remove them.  

This is why I love Italian cooking.  It's all so different yet stil delicious.

Here are a few of the many "secrets" I learned from my husband's grandmother whose nickname was Mimi.  (Crazy huh?!?)

Be careful when you mix your meatballs.  If you over work the meat it makes the meatballs tough.  Adding milk also makes them tender.  She also told me to refrigerate the meatballs before cooking them to help them hold their shape. 

My own little secrets are to add some of the sauce to the meatballs.  It adds flavor.  Plus, when my sons used to invite all their friends over for dinner and I was pressed for time, I'd simply roll the meatballs and put them right in the sauce -- no pre-sauteéing.  They tasted great -- no one knew the difference. Actually I prefer them that way.

What a funny coincidence.  John's grandmother and I got our nicknames in exactly the same way.  My sister and John's cousin were too young to pronounce our real names and the result was "Mimi"!  Hopefully, I am doing justice to the original Mimi's fine cooking traditions.

I tell you to crush the tomatoes with your hands because you will be able to remove any loose skin or tough stems that are still on the tomatoes.  Be careful though!  When you squeeze them the tomatoes squirt all over the place (and yourself!)  

I'm just not convinced by Sue's approach.  I've never heard of vodka sauce made without all those ingredients!  Especially, without a hint of some type of meat flavoring.