This post is being sponsored by Circle B Ranch Pork featuring Marina’s Italian Style Tomato Sauce and Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs. Both product are available on their website plus see below about an amazing promotion they are offering TKW Family members! While this is a compensated post, all comments and opinions are 100% my own.
Whether you grew up in an Italian family or you married into one, you are expected to be able to make 2 amazing things – Tomato Sauce and Meatballs. Growing up in one, those recipes have been passed from generation to generation where it happens behind closed kitchen doors. You raise your right hand, wooden spoon in hand, swear on all things holy that you will never divulge the recipe to an outsider (that is, non-Italian and or non-family member). Nona and Mama ruled the kitchen and you knew that wooden spoon served 2 purposes – to mix up amazing sauces and to tan your behind when you got out of line. Now growing up in one you definitely have the advantage of generations upon generations of teachings.
When I first spoke with Marina of Circle B Ranch Pork it was like talking to family. That NY Italian accent felt like ‘home’. We spoke about Circle B Ranch and the Heritage Berkshire/Kurabota Hogs they raise for both restaurant and consumer consumption. Me being a true lover of pigs (and bacon) was in awe of her story. From Jersey, Staten Island and now residing in the lush Ozark countryside of southwest Missouri there her and her husband, John, are able to not only raise their hogs but also allow Marina to make her amazing Tomato Sauce and Meatballs.
Look at this! This is pure perfection in a bowl!
But first, let’s get back to Marina’s story as it’s amazing. Actually, let me share her words with you as honestly I couldn’t do her story justice.
The kitchen has always been the soul of my home; no matter what age I was or what house we were in, the kitchen is the center of my home. While I was growing up, my mom, aunt Wanda and nana Rina had to kick myself and the rest of the very large Italian family out of the kitchen if they wanted to accomplish anything. Some how I always ended up sneaking back into the kitchen, first to watch and then to learn. Watching those three women work their magic and transform simple ingredients into delicious, family center, healthy meals…was when I fell in love with food and how it can bring a family together.
When John and I got married and we started our own family, I took the invaluable lessons I learned from my mom, aunt and nana used them in my own kitchen. I started to make my own tomato sauce and meatballs, recipes passed down from my nana Rina to me, on Sundays. Over the years I took these recipes and made them my own. I honed them, I added and then took away, my husband and then my children became my taste testers. Their critiques I took to heart and then to my kitchen to make already great recipes into amazing ones. After many years of of this the final product is what you now know as Marina’s Italian Style Tomato Sauce and Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs.
For years my children were involved in sports that took them all around the country and then the world. My husband and I always seemed to be going in two separate directions with the kids but we always seemed to make the time for dinner. Even if it was for 15 minutes at the end of the day, it was our time to be together. Due to this hectic schedule, meatballs and sauce became a staple in our home. Because the meatballs and sauce are healthy with minimal ingredients, my kids were able to get the nutrition they needed without me spending hours in the kitchen away from them. To us they are a “fast food” a fast healthy family meal!
Honestly, when I read her story I was so touched. I love when recipes have meaning and are personal. Just beautiful Marina!
Now what else is beautiful is her sauce and meatballs. When I received the jar of sauce in the mail the very first thing I noticed about it was just how vibrant and red the sauce was. The color was just gorgeous! When I turned the jar over I was so happy to see the ingredient listing: Tomatoes, tomato puree, Olive oil, garlic, basil, salt, coarse ground pepper and sugar. That’s it! No fillers, no artificial this or dye #X either. It was just pure, simple ingredients. Just like you’d find in Nona’s kitchen!
Now when you do a product review you review the product as-is; straight from the container (or however it comes). Well if you grew up like I did (non-Italian household), tomato sauce came from a jar and had to be doctored up. Add some sugar, some herbs and tons of grated cheese to give it flavor; to mask that ‘jarred’ taste. But this, when I opened up this jar of Marina’s Italian Style Tomato Sauce you are immediately treated to that fresh tomato smell. It smelled like Sunday dinner at Nona’s. I quickly started the water to boil the pasta as I could not wait to try this sauce. As the sauce was gently simmering in 2 separate pans (one for a plain sauce taste and another for meatballs & sauce), I turned to the meatballs.
I will admit it, I think I’m more of a meatball snob than most. See I hate meatballs with more chunks and fillers than actual meat. When it comes to meatballs you should be able to taste the meat with the spices acting as a compliment to it; not just filler with a hint of meat. Now Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs are shipped frozen and pre-cooked. Just like the sauce, the first thing I did was flip it over and read the ingredients. Ah Marina, you’re a woman after my own heart here! YES! She gets it – simple, pure, fresh ingredients without all of that additive stuff. Circle B Ranch Pork, beef, eggs, bread, romano cheese, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and parsley. Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs are the REAL DEAL!
So in the 2nd pan of sauce I added the pre-cooked meatballs to warm through. Now by this point my stomach was growling and the smells were simply intoxicating. I’ll be honest, I’ve never had a ‘jarred’ tomato sauce that I liked straight out of the jar. Any of them that I did try I had to doctor up and even at that point I really didn’t care for them. But this, this sauce was different. This sauce was real, simple and just well, like home. As I ladled the bright red sauce over top of my noodles you could see the ripped basil leaves clinging to that tomato richness.
I made us each a plate, Mr. Fantabulous and I, and we sat down for the first tasting. As I said, a true taste test and product is one where there is no additions thus no cheese. Now coming from a woman that eats cheese like it’s her job it was hard to resist but that first bite. WOW, no seriously WOW! This sauce was literally the best jarred tomato sauce I have ever EVER had in my life! It literally tasted like it just was made from scratch in my kitchen. You could taste the freshness of the tomatoes, that hint of fresh basil, the herbs and just the simplicity of it all. Literally after my first bite, I put my fork down and sat there stunned. That something this good came from a jar. Marina you have yourself one AMAZING product!
Now while we were partaking in our plates of pasta I had decided to go 2-ways with the meatballs. I made us a meatball sub sandwich with half of them and the rest then got put on a second plate of pasta. I mean you have to have spaghetti and meatballs, right?! When I make meatball subs I tend to make mine where I canoe out the top like in the picture below. Place some cheese down in, place the cooked meatballs inside and then ladle some sauce over top. I then baked it just for a few – enough to melt the cheese and slightly toast the hoagie roll.
Just as we finished the first plate of pasta, the meatball sub was done. I sliced it up into sections and we each took a piece. What I loved about these meatballs is that they tasted like pure meat with just a hint of spices and cheese. The pork and beef balance was great. They were tender, juicy and just packed with flavor. It was if, when you bit into these luscious meatballs, they just melted in your mouth. These meatballs with this sauce made one amazing Italian marriage. This sub was devoured before I could say “Mangia!” Definitely a winner! Mr. Fantabulous could not get enough of these meatballs! He was raving to the hills about them! Marina once again knocked it out of the park! These are a MUST HAVE!
The final review was the classic Spaghetti and Meatball dish. It’s iconic and symbolizes Italian dinners at it’s finest. As you can see the presentation is stunningly beautiful! That rich tomato sauce resting atop that spaghetti all topped off with a tender and juicy meatball. Now this dish was really difficult in taking the photo as I literally kept having to push Mr. Fantabulous (and his fork) out of the way. LOL Finally it was time to dig in and I had to explain to him how we needed to eat this. We needed to get a slice of meatball, a fair amount of sauce and an equal balance of pasta. You didn’t want too much of one with not enough of the other.
That full flavor combination of the spaghetti, the tomato sauce and the meatball literally left me speechless. I would most definitely buy this sauce and the meatballs! Marina you have made me a believer that there IS an amazing Tomato Sauce out there that comes from a jar and you dear lady have invented it!
I’d definitely recommend to all of you to check out Circle B Ranch Pork and order both Marina’s Italian Style Tomato Sauce and Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs! There are outstanding and I personally recommend them! And let’s just say when Mr. Fantabulous saw the empty jar sitting on the counter he got super sad as he, too, LOVED both of these!
As I said, these are truly incredible but don’t take my words for it. You need to get some for yourself!
Marina and Circle B Ranch Pork is offering an incredible Promotion right now to The Kitchen Whisperer family!
For every order of $50.00 or more, receive $10.00 off! Coupon code SPRING. Click Marina’s Italian Style Tomato Sauce and Marina’s Italian Style Meatballs to add to your cart today! Tell them The Kitchen Whisperer sent you.