THE Best Marinara Sauce ever (with no sugar added)
Chef Chuck has been cooking for many years, even before he was in commercial kitchens. His grandfather was a carpenter by trade and a chef by choice and one of the best untrained cooks this world has ever seen. He was an Italian man and he made many Italian recipes as well. This is not his marinara, but it is a mix of his influence and Chef Chuck’s preferences learned through the last twenty years cooking in commercial kitchens. This is Chef Chuck’s best marinara sauce and it has no added sugar.
Tips for THE BEST Marinara
There are some very important parts to this recipe that are things to note right off the bat:
1. This recipe will use no added sugar. If you feel you need more sweetness for this sauce (which I doubt you will) you can use Splenda and I guarantee you no one will notice the difference.
2. This recipe will not use oregano. Oregano can be a bitter herb and battles with the acid in the tomatoes to make a bitter/acidic environment that we do not want from our final result.
3. This recipe uses jarred chopped garlic. If you have perfectly ripe fresh garlic and want to use slivers or mince that, feel free, but for consistency sake, we use chopped garlic.
4. This recipe will have carrots. If you enjoy carrots then feel free to keep them in the sauce when you blend the tomatoes, if you don’t then feel free to take them out. Either way, the carrots are essential for this sauce (you’ll see why below).
5. This recipe has smoked pork neck’s in it. This can absolutely be made without them but the flavor they add is second to none.
6. And the last one and possibly the most important of all, this recipe uses only San Marzano tomatoes. Not “San Marzano style” tomatoes, but tomatoes from the San Marzano region of Italy. They are naturally sweeter and they taste much more clean and fresh.
First you’re going to want to add some olive oil and butter to your pot and cook down your minced onion and garlic. The finer the chop on these, the better. We want all the flavor of them without biting into big chunks. Once they are translucent and soft you’re going to add your red wine and allow that to cook down.
Once that has reduced by at least half you’re going to add in your tomatoes and all the liquid from the can. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to get all of it out, and watch the video on this page if you would like a little history on the rubber spatula and a cool name for it.
After adding your tomatoes you’re going to add the smoked pork neck bones to the pot. These will cook down over a few hours and you’ll be able to shred them and toss them back in your sauce. Some people leave the pork as is then but (especially if you have little kids who are picky about things) you can also blend them into the sauce when you blend your tomatoes near the end.
A very big part of building this sauce comes now when you add your carrots to the sauce. Carrots naturally pull out acid and bitterness from some of the other ingredients of this sauce. If you don’t like carrots, for this part feel free to add one large carrot and just let it sit in the pot. If you like carrots, I tend to add baby carrots to the sauce and blend them up later with the tomatoes. Now is also a good time to add your Splenda if you’ll be using any. I personally don’t think its necessary but if your target audience is used to sauces like Prego, Ragu, etc. then they may want a bit in there to get that sweetness factor.
Once you reach a light boil you’re going to want to add your basil, parmesan and Romano cheeses, olive oil, and you could salt now or you can wait until the end and salt to taste. Salt is a big deal for a lot of people and it is one of those things that everyone likes a different amount of so waiting until the end is perfectly alright. Using a high quality olive oil is essential and I am a huge proponent of working with smaller companies so if you’re local to Pennsylvania (or even if you aren’t), check out our friends at Kensington Food Company.
Leaving your sauce on a low setting (2-3 on electric stovetops) for three hours or so, you’re now going to want to check your pork neck’s. If they will easily shred with a fork, it’s time to pull apart all that meat and discard the bones. At this point if you want that meat to be noticeable in your sauce then you’re going to blend the rest of your sauce and add the meat back in. If you want the flavor of all the meat but don’t want a billion questions like “what am I eating?” or “why doesn’t this look like ground beef or a meatball?”, you can add the pork back to your pot before blending.
If you have any other meats cooked for your sauce (on this day I also made meatballs, which you can find here) you can add them to your sauce now and leave your sauce set to warm until you’re ready to dish it out and scream “Mangia!”
Exact measurements are listed below, I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this sauce, it’s an absolute homerun with all ages and sizes.
Chef Chuck’s Best Ever Marinara (with zero added sugar)
- 1 Stock Pot
- 1 Rubber Spatula Wooden Spoon, or other utensil you prefer
- 1 #10 can San Marzano Tomatoes (90 ounces) we prefer Cento
- 2 lbs. Smoked Pork Neck Bones
- .5 ea. Spanish Onion, Diced
- 4 Tbsp Garlic, Minced
- 2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
- .25 Cup Red Wine we prefer Sherry
- .25 Cup Baby Carrots Or 1 large if planning to discard
- 2 Packet Splenda Optional
- 3 Tbsp Parmesan and Romano
- 2 Tbsp Basil, Dried or Fresh
- 1 Tbsp Salt, or to taste
- cook down your minced onion and garlic
- once they are translucent and soft, add your red wine and allow that to cook down.
- Once that has reduced by at least half you're going to add in your tomatoes and all the liquid from the can
- now add the smoked pork necks and allow to cook down for a couple hours on low heat
- add carrots (or one large carrot to sauce)
- turn up the heat and add your splenda (optional)
- at a light boil add your basil, olive oil, and parmesan (and salt to taste)
- Shred the meat from the pork neck bones. If you want whole meat in your sauce, use a immersion blender to blend the sauce now. If you want the meat to be blended into the sauce, re-add the meat before blending
- Add any other meat you desire (meatballs, sausage, etc.)