The BEST Pasta Sauce in the Entire World. Don't Doubt It For One Second Until You Have Tried It.( by Mr. G.)

Little Nicky's (In)Famous Red Pasta Sauce

I first, began developing my pasta sauce when I lived in Florence, Italy, in the early 1980s. Inspired by a most awesome Bolognese sauce that was served at a little trattoria called Anita's. It was then that I learned that the base of their classic Bolognese sauce consisted of chicken livers. Since then, I've blended chicken liver into my red sauce, although almost every other piece of the recipe has evolved over the years.

In truth, there's little that's unique about this red sauce. It's simply one of those big, hearty reds of a sort to be found all over southern Italy.

The important thing is, it's just a blueprint. Take it and bend it to your will and taste.

Mrs. G's Note: Mrs. G. knows some of you are horking at the idea of including, much less eating chicken livers. You do not have to use them and the sauce will be good, but not as distinctive and heavenly. The chicken livers give the sauce a deep, seductively subtle flavor and Mrs. G. swears that if no one told you chicken livers were in the sauce, you would never know. Mr. G. didn't tell Mrs. G. about the chicken liver until after they had married, set up house and, most significantly, pooled their money in to a joint bank account. Due to the labor and the richness of the dish, they only have this sauce twice a year and always invite friends over to share.


~ Fresh garlic, yellow onion, and habanero peppers. The peppers are optional, of course, but I love the warmth they add. Start with no more than two habaneros. Next time you can use more if two wasn't enough.

~ Olive oil, red wine (Italian preferred) and balsamic vinegar … and don't forget the green pepper

~ Chicken liver (a couple of ounces), salt & pepper, oregano (dried)

~  Ground meat (Italian sausage -- I like the hot -- but any will do and ground beef). I use both, roughly  a pound of each.

~ Solid meat (Sausage, pork ribs, meat balls, etc.)...vegetarians and vegans LOOK AWAY!

~ Tomato sauce:  four to six cans. Note that these are the larger cans (29 oz.)

~ One defibrillator 

Baby Back Ribs...marinated in pasta sauce. They fall off the bone and mama mia. 

Lets Put It Together

Stage One: Building the Sauce

~ It takes a while to build up the sauce in a way that prevents scorching and burning. The nice thing is, while you're building up the sauce, you can also be doing other parts of the process.

~ Start by chopping the onions and garlic in advance. I use an entire bulb of garlic, but adjust to taste. I also use one entire yellow onion. But again, adjust to taste.

~ Chop the garlic pretty fine (or run through a press, if you prefer). Set aside in small bowl.

~ Chop the onion medium-fine. About like this, then set aside in small bowl.

~ Place a  sauce pot on medium heat.  Use a good sized stock pot or whatever you'd normally use for a large red sauce. We're going to have quite a lot of ingredients, so be sure you have something large enough.

~ With the pot on medium heat, add olive oil -- an ounce or two.

~ Add the onions and garlic to the stock pot and stir. Don't let this get too hot -- that is, don't let the onions and garlic be sizzling vigorously. Stir frequently and cook until the onions begin turning translucent. Don't let the onions or garlic start to brown.

 ~ While these are cooking, start opening cans of tomato sauce and setting at the ready.

~ Start adding the tomato sauce:  Once the onions are ready, you can start adding the tomato sauce. The trick is to add the sauce incrementally so that you don't chill everything down to room temperature. Initially, add about a quarter of a tin and let that come up to temp.  As soon as you see that start to simmer, add another quarter can.

As the sauce grows in size the proportion of sauce that is hot increases, so you'll be able to add larger and larger amounts at a time.  By the time you get to the final can of tomato sauce, you can probably just add the entire can. The key, though, is to keep it cooking.

Also, while building the sauce slowly like this over time, you can move onto other parts of the process like seasoning and adding ingredients.


Stage Two: Adding Flavor Ingredients

While you're building up the sauce, you can add the flavor ingredients

Add red wine.  I use a nice Chianti (because I like to drink the remainder once the I've added what I need). In truth, though, any red will will do. With the sauce at a point where it's hot (that is, you haven't just added room-temp sauce to the pot), add a couple of ounces of red wine. I'm pretty liberal with the wine -- maybe even three or four ounces. Unfortunately, I don't measure -- I just pour -- so I can't be exact.

Add balsamic vinegar. Again, with the sauce hot, add about an ounce (or two) of balsamic vinegar.

Chop and add habanero peppers. First halve the pepper and remove the seeds, then chop medium-fine.  A sauce this large can easily tolerate two habaneros without getting too spicy. Two should add a nice deep warmth to the sauce. How many you use and how warm you like your sauce is a matter of personal preference, so you just need to go with trial and error when adjusting this. But again, starting with two should do you well.

Be careful when you're working with habaneros. Don't touch your eyes, obviously, but also avoid the aerosol. Also, when finished with the peppers, wash your cutting board, knives, and hands. By the way, first-aid for pepper juice (capsaicin) in the eyes is to flush the eyes with milk. Learned this the hard way (ask Enzo).

Add green pepper (or two). Green peppers disintegrate, so you want to add one and after about three hours, when it starts to fall apart, you take it and throw it away. An easy way to do this is to cut the top off the green pepper, like you'd cut the top out of a pumpkin you're going to carve. With the top off, clean out the seeds and remove the pith (the white pulpy material), then place the entire pepper in the sauce. Once it starts to fall apart, it's pretty easy to pick it out of the sauce and dispose of.

Add dried oregano. I don't use a lot of seasoning -- just oregano, salt and pepper.  I use a pretty good palm-full of oregano, then crush it between my two hands as I filter it into the sauce.

Salt and pepper. Salt to taste. Pepper … well, I grind a pretty good amount of pepper into the sauce. As you already know, I like a decent bit of warmth and pepperocity.


Stage 3: Adding the meats

By the time you get here, the sauce it probably pretty well built up. You definitely want the sauce pot to be pretty much full and to be pretty hot when you're adding your meats.

Note that, except for the chicken livers (which are essential), the meats can be just about anything you like. For ground meat, I almost always do a combination of ground beef and ground sausage (sometimes just ground pork instead of the sausage). You can adjust any way you like.

1.    Chicken livers.  Long referred to as my "secret ingredient," the chicken livers are an essential ingredient, so don't let your aversion to organs hold you back. I also have an aversion to organs, but here it's very different. I was turned onto this approach while living in Italy, where in Tuscany their most incredibly delicious Bolognese sauce (the classic Bolognese -- not the crap you get in American restaurants) has a chicken-liver base.  Try this approach. It adds a wonderful rich and earthy edge to the sauce.

a.      In a blender, place about an ounce of olive oil.

b.      Add a splash of red wine (we need some liquid for the blending)

c.      Add two or three ounces of fresh chicken livers.

d.      Blend thoroughly until a smooth, consistent blend. You don't want chunks.

e.      Separately, heat a sauté pan. Get it pretty hot.

f.       Pour the liver blend into the hot sauté pan. Stir constantly while the blend rapidly turns from purple (from the wine) to brown.  This happens very quickly -- in less than two minutes.

g.      When ready, pour the cooked blend from the sauté pan into the sauce pot.


2.    Ground meat. Again, there is a lot of flexibility with ground meats, but I most often use a pound each of ground beef and ground Italian sausage (typically the hot variety). Cook the ground meat fully in a sauce pan, then add to the sauce pot and stir in.


3.    Whole meat. As I've already mentioned, the whole meat you select is completely up to you and optional. I use sausage a lot but only because it's easy. When feeling ambitious, I make meat balls (another recipe -- I'll share that one another time). Mrs. G's favorite is baby back ribs browned and cooked in the sauce. My mother used to love using pork shank (peasant style). I would never use fish, but I can't think of any meat that wouldn't do. What ever revs your engine.

Regardless of the meat you select, note that the meat will cook in the sauce. All you need do in advance is brown the meat.


Stage 4:  Cooking:

The sauce should cook for at least three or four hours from the time you add the whole meat. I always give it four hours, but that's just me. Use the following guidelines:

1.    Keep the sauce at a simmer. Never, never let it come to a hard boil.

2.    Stir frequently to prevent sticking or scorching.

3.    Be sure to watch the green pepper. As soon as it starts falling apart, remove it from the sauce.

4.    Keep a nice loaf of French bread or baguette on hand to slice and taste along the way.

5.    Give it three hours minimum, but four hours preferred.

6.    Enjoy.



PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    derfwadmanor - Derfwad Manor - The BEST Pasta Sauce in the Entire World. Don't Doubt It For One Second Until You Have Tried It.( by Mr. G.)
  • Response
    derfwadmanor - Derfwad Manor - The BEST Pasta Sauce in the Entire World. Don't Doubt It For One Second Until You Have Tried It.( by Mr.
  • Response
    Response: live in services
    derfwadmanor - Derfwad Manor - The BEST Pasta Sauce in the Entire World. Don't Doubt It For One Second Until You Have Tried It.( by Mr.

Reader Comments (32)

Wow. He finally gave it up? We've been hearing about this amazing sauce for so long and I'd about given up hope of ever finding out what makes it so special. But it makes sense. And even allowing for my own aversion to organs, I might have to try it. Thanks, Mr. G.!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNacCrackHouse

Truly? Mr. G. is telling us his recipe?! WOW! The Seahawks ought to win the Superbowl more often!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

This is momentous! Thank you Mr. G. I feared we would never know the secret to this sauce.

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

Thank you!!!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda J


You have no idea how much joy you've just given me, Nick.

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSungmanitu

swoon. thank you Mr G!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Thank you so much for sharing. Making this is now on my bucket list!

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

That is one impressive recipe. Thank you for finally spilling the secret of the livers. Who woulda thought?!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKellyK

good lord that is one fantastic sounding sauce.
Chicken livers, who knew!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynot

Makes me think of my Sicilian mother in laws sauce.......she adds a fresh ham hocks (which is the pork shank, I think), or meatballs or bushalunas (not sure how to's ground beef wrapped around boiled egg, salami and cheese) or beef roast and it simmers all day. It seems the meat is whatever she has on hand. But the chicken livers kind of make me think of anchovies...they cook and kind of break down to nothing, but add a heck of a flavor. My favorite is with the pork.....that pork fat does something magical.....obviously the chicken livers do too.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy

I totally believe about the chicken livers. Never considered it, but it makes perfect sense.
I cannot believe you didn't password protect this post--you're giving good stuff away for FREE here!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

Holy smokes. I can't believe this is the actual recipe. I'm gonna make this happen this week. Thank you so much for sharing.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen H

O.M.G. that sounds fabulous! I cannot wait to give this a try, and though organ meat is a horker, it is good for you, what a way to get it. If only I could eat it over real pasta with real bread, but Schar makes a good gluten free pasta, made in Italy.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Wow. We are privileged to at last learn the secret sauce recipe. An invitation to dinner at the G house is a dream come true.

Chicken livers! I will immediately add these to my own, less spectacular bolognese recipe!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

Exactly what NacCrackHouse said. Thank you for sharing. And I like chicken livers - rumaki or just dredged in flour and fried up with onions and served with mashed potatoes and gravy. Mmmm. Now the secret is to find some. Not many grocery stores seem to carry organ meats any more.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralison

Only twice a year? [sad face]

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSmalltown Me

I can't believe he gave it up!!! This makes me so happy!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Wow. Thanks for sharing this! I'm wanting to have a big spaghetti dinner for my family later this month, and this just might be what I serve! I'll even be brave and touch the chicken livers.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

I eaten neither meat nor fowl in over sixteen years, but the one thing I still miss occasionally: chicken livers, especially in a good pate. We'll be sticking with marinara here, but that does sound mm mm good.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternaomi d

Wow! Please invite me next time you make it. I promise not to made adverse remarks about the chicken livers.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteredj

Wow I love chicken livers so this was very exciting to know I can add it for my secret too! Thanks Mr. G!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

OH MY GOD! This looks amazing! I had no idea you could cram all that into one pot of sauce. I know what I'm trying on my next weekend off!

I can not WAIT to make this. My Italian-American sister-in-law taught me to make sauce, so mine is pretty good, but I really want to see what the chicken livers add to the mix. We grew habaneros this summer, so my freezer is bursting with them.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatience

Oh my word!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I will definitely be making this at the first possible opportunity (when I have two legs to stand on). I will have to keep the secret ingredient a secret around here though.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisaWinKS

I come hone from a wonderful vacation to find this amazing recipe!!! Could life be better???

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecca


When you add the "whole meat" at the end -- especially if it's meatballs -- how does it not get all falling-apart-ish after 3 or 4 hours? Or is it supposed to ? Are we talking big hunks of meat or giant meatballs OR little chunks? I AM CONFUSED. What is the end purpose of the whole meat? To have big chunks you can fish out and put on top of the pasta/sauce? Or does it just dissolve into a nice thick sauce? Help! I wouldn't want to go all that way and screw it up at the end.

February 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkate in MI

For whatever reason, the meatballs don't fall apart. For us, the meat is fished out and served as a side.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy

A pot of this deliciousness is literally slowly simmering on my stove right this MINUTE. I did not add the whole meat at the end, because frankly, I was meat-ed out by then, but WOWZA. So far, the flavor is insane. SO complex! And it's only just been cooking for 15 minutes (after all the stuff was in the pot). I already promised a plate of it to my next door neighbor, assuming I don't screw it up.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkate in MI

Mmmmm, I'm three hours into the simmer!
I'm guessing when you send out a recipe you will always get a myriad of dumb questions. Here are mine-
What would happen if the green pepper was left in? Seems weird to me to fish it out and not eat it. Why not chop it up and leave it in?
Do you freeze this ever? Contemplating how to use it all up...
Thanks Mr. G!! And Mrs. G of course!

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I am TOTALLY making this!! Thank you!!! Sunday sauce here we come!!

March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecky In Upstate NY

Just added the last of the meatballs to this sauce for a 6 o'clock dinner. I'm really wondering how I'm going to stay out of it while it is cooking. The DH saw the livers when he helped unload the groceries. He asked if they went into this recipe. I said no... they're for fishing! Don't know if he bought it or not but it made it in without anybody seeing me do it. Does take a while but thinking it will be worth every minute and fat gram!

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisaWinKS

I made this last night and it is divine!!! Thank you Mr. And Mrs. G!!

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecky in Upstate NY

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>