Special thanks to Rich Moellers, for providing his this Suga with smoked sausage, secret family recipe with us.
My mother is very Italian – her father emigrated from Sicily in 1913 and her mother’s parents both emigrated from Italy. Her family ate suga and pasta every week. When she married my dad, she continued that tradition, serving suga and pasta for our family of nine kids every Sunday for lunch.
You won’t find the word “suga” in an Italian dictionary. You will find “sugo,” though – it means “sauce.” “Suga” is how the word evolved in our family, and I’m not about to tell anyone in my extensive family that the word should actually be “sugo.”
We almost always had our suga Bolognese-style, with ground beef. The family recipe also included diced onions and freshly minced garlic. My mother would use only home-canned tomato sauce in her suga. Each summer, we kids would go to a tomato farm and pick a truckload of tomatoes (enough for a whole year). One third of the tomatoes would be red-ripe; one third would be pink, and one third would be green. That way, they would ripen as she worked her way through them.
My mother used a device to squeeze the juice out of the tomatoes. We kids were sometimes pulled into service turning the crank. Now that she’s officially retired from canning tomatoes, she has recently passed this down to me. I have intentions of trying it out this summer with some fresh tomatoes.
Without home-canned tomatoes available to me as I went off to college in 1989, Mom changed the recipe up a little for me. Her edit called for a large can of tomato puree and three cans of tomato paste. Everything else was easily obtained, so there were no other changes. This is the recipe I stuck to – using ground beef – after I got married in 1993 and moved to Morrilton, Arkansas. With busy career lives, my wife and I didn’t really have time to can tomatoes.
Fast forward almost ten years, when we started serving suga and pasta to our kids. Kids being kids, they weren’t really interested in the ground beef, onions or garlic; so we dropped the beef and switched to onion powder and garlic powder.
Meanwhile, we also enjoyed the regular spaghetti and sausage dinners served at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morrilton, where my family and I attend. In talking to my extensive Italian family, this appeared to us to be a regional variation. So, we’ve made another edit in the family recipe to account for this local taste. Left to render in the simmering pot, the sausage adds a new flavor profile that has resulted in another change to the recipe – a little less black pepper.
We use a 28 ounce can of tomato puree and three 6 ounce cans of tomato paste. I then fill the 28 ounce can with water to add to the recipe.
A small spatula will help you to get every bit of tomato paste out of a can.
After the paste, puree and water, I add a teaspoon each of black pepper and onion powder, a half-teaspoon of garlic powder and a tablespoon each of salt, basil and oregano. I also add sugar (not pictured) – the official recipe calls for a tablespoon, but I usually add as many as three tablespoons. Sugar helps to cut the acid in the tomatoes for those of us who suffer from heartburn. After combining all of the ingredients and stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, I now add the Petit Jean Sausage.
I cut them into approximately one inch slices.
After stirring the sausage into the pot, I simmer the suga, covered, on low for at least two hours and serve over spaghetti.
- One (1) 28 ounce can of tomato puree
- Three (3) 6 ounce cans of tomato paste
- 28 ounces (3 ½ cups) of water
- One (1) teaspoon of black pepper
- One (1) teaspoon of onion powder
- One-half (½) teaspoon of garlic powder
- One (1) tablespoon of salt
- One (1) tablespoon of basil
- One (1) tablespoon of oregano
- Three (3) tablespoons of sugar
- One package of Petit Jean Smoked Sausage
- Combine the puree, paste and water in a large saucepan.
- Add the pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, basic, oregano and sugar, then stir until the paste is fully dissolved.
- Slice the sausage into approximately one-inch slices and add.
- Simmer, covered, over low heat for at least two hours.
- Serve over your favorite spaghetti.
Rich Moellers is a market manager of a group of radio stations in Morrilton, AR. He has produced a series of 30-second recipes with Petit Jean Meats products that have aired on his stations for the past five years. A married father of three, he’s the cook in the family. He grew up eating his Italian mother’s cooking, but has also absorbed his wife’s family’s Southern cooking background. When he’s not eating, he serves on several boards, ranging from Economic Development to the local community center, his church and the state broadcasting association. For fun, he plays guitar and piano, both equally terribly.
Rich is a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club, a group of dedicated ambassadors who share their love of Petit Jean Meats with the world.