Ace Candoli's
Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce


I love spaghetti and Ace Candoli's spaghetti sauce, which has been passed down from many generations of Italians, is the best I’ve ever had.  His mother, who was born in Italy, made this sauce for Ace when he was a child.  Many decades later, Ace made this sauce for my family when I was a kid in the 1970s and I still remember how good it tasted.


Above:  The master Italian chef, Ace Candoli, dishing up some of his great spaghetti sauce, from the recipe his family has used for generations.  This was during my visit to Austin, Texas in June 2001.

I visited Ace and his wife Joan in Austin, Texas, in 1995 and he made spaghetti one night.  Although it had been 20 years since I'd tasted this sauce, all the memories instantly came flooding back with my first bite, and it tasted exactly as I had remembered.  Don’t tell Ace, but his spaghetti sauce is one reason I stopped in Austin to visit him and Joan six years later, in 2001 and, thankfully, he made a huge batch of it on the first night I was there.  Needless to say, it quickly disappeared.


Ace was kind enough to give me his recipe during my visit with them.  The sauce takes a while to make but is well worth it.  Surprisingly, it uses very few spices – just some garlic and a little salt.  The unique flavor is derived not from spices but rather from the blend of carrots, celery and onions.  The key is to cook the carrots well, under high heat.  The browner the carrots, the more intense the flavor.  Also, be sure to cook all of the vegetables in the same pot, in sequence:  first the carrots, then add the celery, then add the onions.  


Take it from me, Ace knows his sauce.  So put away those jars of Ragu and enjoy what real spaghetti sauce is supposed to taste like.


- Del


Ace Candoli's
Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce


Prep and Cooking Time:  About 1 hour
Simmering Time:  4 - 5 hours
Total Time:  About 5 - 6 hours
Servings:  Yields 10 large servings (with cooked pasta)


2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon of garlic powder)
6 medium carrots, finely chopped (i.e., a few less than what’s in a 2-pound bag)
8 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped.  I prefer sweet onions but yellow onions can be used.
3 pounds of ground beef (10% or less fat content)
3 12-ounce cans of tomato paste
1 28-ounce can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can of mushrooms (stems and pieces)
1 teaspoon of salt

Optional:  If the sauce tastes a little "metallic" (i.e., acidic), you should add one pinch of baking soda per cup of cooked spaghetti sauce   The metallic taste is common with homemade spaghetti sauces, and the baking soda reduces the acidity.  Be sure to mix the baking soda into the sauce thoroughly before serving.

Add the olive oil to a large pot, then turn the heat up to high.  If you’re using garlic cloves, sauté the chopped cloves in the hot oil.  Otherwise, add the garlic powder when you add the carrots.


Add the chopped carrots to the pot and sauté them under high heat, stirring frequently, until they nearly brown.  This will take about 20 minutes.  The carrots should be a dark orange color, some slightly blackened.  To this same pot, add the chopped celery and sauté with the carrots until the celery is partly-transparent.  Then, to the same pot, add the chopped onions and sauté with the carrots and celery all mixed together.


Simmer the vegetables until the celery and onions are transparent, about another 30 minutes to an hour.  While the vegetables are simmering, cook the ground beef, then drain the fat and add the meat to the vegetables in the pot.


To the pot, add the tomato sauce (or diced tomatoes), tomato paste, mushrooms, and salt.  Also add about four 12-ounce cans of water, but this depends on your desired consistency.  The goal is a thick and chunky sauce that will sit up high on the spaghetti, not a watery sauce like Ragu or Prego that will run through it. 


Simmer, mostly covered, for about four hours.  If the water steams away, just add more.  You want the sauce to gently bubble, not boil – boiling will cause bitterness.  Stir every 20 - 30 minutes to prevent sticking, then serve with pasta and enjoy!