Mama Mia!





by Pitmaster Jimi James


Tomato Sauce for Mother’s Day


Boy, my mom could tell you some stories about the three of us boys growing up and how she is amazed she made it through it all…alive!!!

Let’s see– pulling each other off the top bunk of our bunk beds while the top person was sleeping; shooting my brother in the arm with a BB gun (I got an ass whippin’ from my uncle for that one!); shooting holes in the wall, ceiling and closet with a bow and arrow; setting diapers on fire on top of the gas stove….okay, I will guess you get the point by now.

It seems every year we knock our heads against the wall to try and figure out what our mom wants for Mother’s Day. In my opinion, I don’t believe my mom or YOUR mom ACTUALLY wants anything as far as receiving a gift from us. Moms have the hardest job on the face of the planet. They are planners, taxi drivers, chefs, laundry service, organization specialists, dishwashers, plumbers, school teachers, career counselors, fashion cops, and dating instructors.  I’m sure I missed a TON of other things moms are here, but please don’t send me hate mail.  I’m just trying to say moms wear many, many, many hats.

I believe what MOM wants from us all is not anything you or I could buy from any store– online or brick-and-mortar. Mom just wants a thank you, a hug.  To hear you say “ I Love You, MOM.”  She wants to see you succeed at whatever you choose to be in a career.  She wants you to be happy with the partner you chose to be with…or to be happy without one if that’s your thing.  She wants to know you’re okay, even when you know you’re okay all the time, every day.

Stop reading for a minute, and go call your mom.  Yes.  RIGHT NOW!!!

* If you’re missing your mom this year because she is not here with you, know mom is still with you. You keep her alive in your heart and your memories every day.  I want you all to take a minute and close your eyes.  Take a minute to talk to your mom through your thoughts or to reflect on your favorite memory.  It’s in honor of her day.


Okay…now that you’re back.

So I stopped and thought, “What do I do very well?”.  I grill, cook, bake,  wreak general awesomeness in the kitchen, etc. etc. etc.  So why not do what I do best.

AND why not give MOM the best of YOU this Mother’s Day???

With that, I give you my recipe for tomato sauce.

You can use this as a Marinara or a Spaghetti sauce. If you like meat in your sauce, just add 1 lb. of cooked ground meat of your choice to the sauce.

Here is the list of ingredients you will need for this killer sauce from my mom to your mom:

Tomato Sauce



  • 2 ( 28 0z) cans San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 medium size yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced fine
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp dried Sweet Basil
  • 1 tsp distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped Italian parsley

Got your ingredients?  Now, let’s get to it!!!

One more thing.  You must make sure you use a wooden spoon for this sauce, so grab that now.  NO metal utensils!!!

Wooden Spoon

Otherwise, it’s bad luck.

First, let’s grab your 5-quart sauce pot. Turn it on medium-low heat.

Add your chopped onion and celery to the pot with a pinch of salt, and we are just going to sweat them for about 15 minutes.




No sautéing this time.  You don’t want to brown the onion and celery.  You’re just striving to make them soft.

Next, we’re going to work on the tomatoes.  No tomatoes are going to work for this recipe except San Marzano Tomatoes, which are from Italy.

Tomatoes Canned

You can find them at your grocery store.  I promise.  I found mine most recently at WalMart.  They come in 28-ounce cans.

Empty the both cans into a bowl, and you’ll notice how nice they are.  Also, they are packaged with one or two bay leaves.  Do not throw them away!!!

Once in the bowl crush the tomatoes by hand. You could use a food processor, but who wants to clean it?  And, we are not looking for that fine of a consistency.  You are wanting more of a puree here.

Hands in Tomato Sauce

Now that that is finished, let’s go back to the onion and celery in the sauce pot. By now, they’re nice and soft, so let’s add our garlic to the mix and cook that up for a minute.

Always add your garlic last when sweating or sautéing.  Garlic tends to burn very quickly and will leave you with a horrible taste.  So no burning the garlic!!!

Now add your salt, sugar, dry oregano, dried sweet basil, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. We’re gonna raise the heat up to medium and cook it for a couple of minutes.

What we’re doing here is trying to evaporate the liquid.  You still don’t want anything to brown. So cook your mixture until all visible liquid is evaporated. When your mix looks dry, you’re going to add the tomato paste puree.  Mix it in well and cook for an additional two minutes.

After all those steps are completed, now comes the moment you have been waiting for…okay, maybe it’s the time I have been waiting for because I love these tomatoes!!!!!  Finally, add the fresh Italian Parsley and a little splash of water to the mix.

When the sauce starts to boil, you’re going to turn it down and simmer for an hour an a half.   Add a splash of water here and there only when it needs it, so it doesn’t get to thick on you.

There you go– a super awesome tomato sauce from me to you and your mom!!!

Now go cook up some pasta, invite your mom for dinner and return the favor for all those meals she slaved over to make sure you were fed– happy and healthy.

Coming soon…PIZZA BURGERS!

Stay Hungry, my friends,

Pitmaster Jimi James



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