Out of sheer necessity, my mother Louise Pergolini, made simple meals at home. She was usually feeding anywhere from eight to 12 people each day.
When she knew she’d be home for a few hours, she’d often made a big stock pot of sugo, an all-purpose tomato sauce for pasta meals or braised meat dishes. It normally contained, depending on the season, whole fresh or tinned tomatoes, a soffritto of onion, carrot and celery (aka the holy trinity), a bit of fresh garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil plus a bit of red wine. Depending on what was in the fridge, it might have been enhanced with some spicy pork sausages or some pork ribs, or both. Or there may have been time to make meatballs, consigning a few of us kids to help form the little balls of pork and veal. Some of the sugo was for the evening meal and some was destined for the freezer to provide quick week-night meals.
Our stock pot was enormous and the long wooden stirrer was nearly immersed to reach the bottom. The smell was divine and us kids couldn’t resist nipping past with a corner of crusty white continental bread and dipping into the pot for a taste. I’m sure all mothers have ears in the back of their heads because Louise would sing out just as we dunked, “Hands out of the pot. There won’t be any left for dinner”.
Fast forward to 2014. The work week is busy for my husband and I, so when we have time in the kitchen together, we like to get a nice pot of sugo simmering. This weekend, it started with the soffritto of onion, carrot and celery. Then we browned some pork ribs procured earlier in the day from our Italian butcher, Marino Meats at the Adelaide Central Market. We added a few tins of whole tomatoes; some herbs – oregano, basil, thyme (both fresh and dried from our garden); a dash of Tempranillo (OK, it’s not Italian, but it was open!); garlic; red hot chillies from the garden and some dried pepperoncini. Everyone has a favourite recipe, probably like your grandmother’s with seasonal variations and accounting for heat.
While the sauce simmered away and filled the house with savoury aromas, Andrew got on to the pasta. A local grain grower Pankarra, stone mills their own wholegrain durum wheat. Combining the Pangkarra with equal parts of ’00’ flour from Molini Pizzuti we have found works well for different shapes of pasta. Add fresh eggs from our friend Ben’s chooks.
Salted water boiling, pasta in, garden-fresh parsley chopped, cheese grated and ‘voila!’, dinner.
Sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying.