As children, we knew it was Sunday just by waking to the aromas permeating throughout the house! The onions & garlic sauteing, the browning of the sausages, pork pieces, braciole, and meatballs. On the counter were the cans of tomatoes waiting to be added to bring together our family’s Sunday meat sauce…brings back the best childhood memories of our family’s ritual of making the Sunday sauce or gravy as our Neopolitan Mom and Grandma Florence called it.
It was a time for the whole family to sit down together, enjoy delicious food while catching up with everyone’s life, and we always laughed a lot. With some of us moving to different parts of the country we miss that weekly gathering. To this day, we still make our sauce the very same way. Like any family favorites, we think ours is the Best! So when family members come to visit we recreate those special Sunday dinners and we all just love being together again.
Twiins Family Favorite Sunday Meat Sauce & Pasta Dinner
- 8-qt stockpot, or larger
- 12" frying pan for meatballs, or larger
- large bowl to mix meatball mixture
- small bowl to soak bread for meatballs
- Large platter to serve meat
- Large Pasta Bowl
- 3 (28 oz cans) San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
- 1 (24.5 oz jar) Mutti Tomato Puree
- 2 (6 oz cans) Hunt's Tomato Paste with basil, garlic & oregano
- 2 Tablespoons EVOO
- 1 large Onion, diced
- 12 large Garlic cloves, minced the more the better
- 1 lb. Italian Hot Sausage links about 5 links
- 1 lb. Italian Sweet Sausage links about 5 links
- 4 Country Ribs
- 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves
- 36 Meatballs see The Best Napoletana Meatballs recipe
- 1 loaf Italian Bread warmed
- Pecorino Romano Cheese optional
- Whole Milk Ricotta optional
- Fresh Basil Leaves chopped or ribbons for garnish, optional
- Add a drizzle of EVOO to 8 qt stock pot and brown all sausages & ribs (it may take 2 batches to complete).
- Once browned, remove meat and place in a deep bowl. Set aside.
- Add 2 Tablespoons EVOO to the already hot remaining oil & fond in the stockpot (fond is all the wonderful browned pieces of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot). Once the EVOO is hot enough, add diced onion & saute on medium-low heat until they start to carmelize.
- Add the minced garlic, fresh basil leaves, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and stir. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the 2 cans of Hunt's tomato paste. Mix well and cook for about 1 minute. Add the San Marzano Whole Tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a fork. The tomatoes will cook down after 4 hours. Add the bottle of Mutti tomato puree then combine well.
- Add the sausages and country ribs to the sauce and stir well. Continue cooking sauce on a low simmer for 3-4 hours until ribs and sausages are very tender or start to fall apart.
- Prepare the meatball mixture (The Best Napoletana Meatballs recipe). Shape mixture into 1 ½-inch round meatballs (or whatever size you prefer). In a large frying pan pour in enough canola oil to a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat the oil until hot. Add the meatballs and brown on both sides on medium heat. Remove and place in a bowl until 20 minutes before the sauce is done. Don't worry if there are too many meatballs for one dinner. They can be cooked and frozen for another meal or make some delicious meatball parm heroes the next day.
- 20 minutes before the sauce is done, add the meatballs and stir gently. Continue on a low simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once you add the meatballs to the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt to the boiling water, then add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
- In the meantime, remove all the meat from the saucepot once the meatballs have simmered for 20 minutes in the sauce. Place in a large bowl or platter. After cooking the sauce for 4 hours (or more) the whole tomatoes break down however you can use an immersion blender to smooth it out if you don't like tiny pieces of tomato in your sauce.
- Drain the pasta and pour a ladle or two of the sauce on top. Place pasta in a large, deep bowl. Portion out the pasta on individual plates with a meatball, sausage, or piece of rib meat (or all three!)
- In our family, we top each plate with a dollop of whole milk ricotta, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and some chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve with warmed crusty sesame seed Italian bread & butter.