I don’t think that anything makes me happier than when I have a pot of succo (spaghetti sauce) simmering on the stove. Why do I call it succo? Because that’s what my family has always called it, pronounced sugoo…. It’s basically Italian for sauce or gravy, and the “oo” part comes from the Sicilian heritage, in which we tend to put “oo” in place of the long “o” at the end of words. Honestly? I think a lot of the words that my grandmother used were part Sicilian and part English.. at least most of her sentences were a mixture of the two…and she had the most adorable Italian accent.
I have many happy memories of Grandma, many of them based around food, especially her bread…which none of us have ever been able to re-create. I say that, but I do believe that a couple of my aunts are pretty darn close! I’ll never forget the orange slices (candy) in her cupboard that she would always share with me…and now I have to have them in my own cupboard today! Grandma also made her own ricotta salata…and while I buy it from my beloved Wegmans, theirs doesn’t hold a candle to hers. …And Grandma’s sauce… what a special treat to be at her house when she had a pot simmering on her stove. I can tell you, that’s where I came to love egg..and peas..in my succo…
…And since I’m talking about my grandmother, here is a quick story of how my name came to be…
Grandma Bucolo came to America from Sicily when she was in her teens. It absolutely amazes me that these young kids came over here to make a life for themselves, when at that age, I couldn’t imagine getting on a ship and traveling to another country by myself, or even letting my own kids go when they were that age. No way. This young, beautiful, and courageous girl named Providencia Amato (pictured here) did just that.
Now, I’m not exactly sure of how her name was changed, whether it was at Ellis Island and the clerk working that day couldn’t spell her name, and gave her a new name… or if Grandma voluntarily changed her name. Maybe it was a little of both, but on that day of arrival at Ellis Island, Providencia became Prudence. She loved her new name, and three of her granddaughters, including myself, were named after her.
Whether this is true or not, there is the story that when people started to call her Prudy, my grandmother thought that they were calling her “Pretty”, and of course, that made her very happy! I love that…and regardless if that little story is true or not, “Pretty” truly fits. She was a beautiful lady, and I loved her so, so much. I’m honored to carry her name.
Succo with Meatballs and Hardboiled Eggs
This very simple sauce recipe is small batch with meatballs, and eggs. I prepared it the other day to go with the gnocchi that I made, and when you’re eating gnocchi you don’t need a ton of extras. You really want to savor the star of the show, which is the gnocchi. One of these days I’ll do a full pot of succo and share it with you (pork, sausage, eggs, meatballs..etc.).
1 pound pork, veal, beef mixture (if you prefer, only ground beef is just fine)
½ cup Romano cheese
2 slices bread, wet down with water, squeezed until the liquid is gone, broken into pieces
1 tbsp parsley
½ small onion, minced (around two tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
5 whole hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
2-28 oz cans tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
Freshly grated Ricotta Salata
In a large bowl, mix the pork mixture, egg, Romano cheese, bread, parsley, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper until just blended. Do not overmix. Roll into five medium size meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the heated oil, and fry until browned. They don’t have to be fully cooked at this point, they’ll finish cooking in the sauce. Move the meatballs to a plate, and set aside.
To the same pan, add the onions, sauté until golden. Add the garlic, and sauté for a few minutes more. Add the sauce to the pan, along with the sugar. Add the meatballs and eggs to the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Stirring the sauce occasionally, simmer for two to three hours, or until it has reduced and thickened to your preference. Add salt if you think it’s necessary. If it cooks down too much, you can always add some of the gnocchi or pasta water to the sauce afterward.
Serve on gnocchi, or your favorite pasta, sprinkle generously with ricotta salata. I easily served five people very generous portions, one meatball, and one egg each. You can double this recipe, and freeze the extra… I don’t freeze the eggs, only because I don’t care for their texture after they’ve been frozen.