The water is dependent on the type of tomato puree you use. Some brands will be more watery than others. Use San Marzano puree as it is much thicker than most brands. I am sure the original recipe is old, and most likely from Italy, so it would make sense to use that much water with Italian tomatoes. The original recipe stated to use the cans to fill up the water, 2 29 oz cans of tomatoes, and one can of paste for the water. So the amount of water would be far less if it had some puree and paste still left in the can, as well as most people would not fill it to the top when they add water to a can and transfer it to their pot! After letting the meat and onions cook, I transferred the rest of the ingredients to my slow cooker, (fit perfectly in my 6 qt.) ,and simmered for 5 hours on low. I have made this several times, and it is fantastic. My family of four can easily get two full meals out of it. Thanks Allison (dog fish head) for sharing your recipe, your legacy lives on! May you rest in peace.
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The water is dependent on the type of tomato puree you use. Some brands will be more watery...