Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

November 2, 2015 By Cathy — 8 Comments
Rich tomato sauce and meatballs slowly simmered and served over pasta.
Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

When I came downstairs this morning, I had a childhood flashback to the smells of Sunday morning. These were not your typical Sunday morning smells. No bacon frying or bread toasting, but instead our house smelled like my favorite Italian restaurant…garlic and onion seeping into my pores before I was even fully awake.  Every Sunday my Dad would make sauce and meatballs right after he had breakfast and while I was still clinging to the last bits of sleep. I would stumble out of bed, head to the kitchen and instantly want to skip over breakfast and move right on to dinner.
Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

We never tired of my Dad’s sauce. We ate it every Sunday and then depending on how much was left over, we would fashion at least one or two weekday meals from the rest.  It really didn’t matter what type of pasta we were having, the sauce was the star of the show. We even referred to it as “having sauce” for dinner. Not gravy (that’s for turkey in my book), not pasta, just simply ”sauce”. The sauce and meatballs would simmer on the lowest flame all day, being carefully stirred and secretly sampled by my brothers and me. The aroma of the sauce filled the house and never failed to get our stomachs rumbling and our incessant “how long until dinner???” chant started.

Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

My dad was the cook of all things Italian in our house. One of fourteen children born to Italian immigrants, he often hung around the kitchen while his mother cooked for the family. Of course, he adapted his mother’s recipe for sauce and meatballs over time, but the essence of it remained. This is a rich tomato sauce slowly simmered until thickened (but not too thick) and filled with meatballs that are perfectly browned in a frying pan before being tossed into the bubbling pot to finish cooking.

Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

 

Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

I still consider my Dad’s meatballs the best I’ve ever tasted. They taste like home. And while mine come pretty close to his, I never mind when my boys declare Grandpa’s their favorite too.  The secret to this sauce and meatballs is not to rush.  The longer it simmers, the better it gets.  The flavor has time to develop and it’s honestly even better later in the week (if you still have some left).  I don’t make sauce every Sunday, but when I do, I often feel a twinge of nostalgia.  It reminds me of being a kid and plucking a meatball out of the pot with my fork and gobbling it up before giving it a chance to cool down.  It reminds me of family, comfort and tradition.  I hope my boys have similar memories and one day they make a pot of Sunday sauce to share with a family of their own.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sunday Sauce and Meatballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rich tomato sauce and meatballs slowly simmered and served over pasta.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ small green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 - 28 oz can tomato puree
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (1 tsp dried can be substituted in you can't find fresh)
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste

  • Meatballs
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ small green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 meat:fat)
  • 1 pound ground beef/veal/pork mix (ground beef can be substituted)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cups bread crumbs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (1/2 tsp dried can be substituted in you can't find fresh)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Sauce: Heat olive oil over med/high heat in a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Add bell pepper and onion and saute until translucent and just beginning to brown, about 3-4 mins.
  3. Stir in garlic and continue to cook 2 more minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, then fill the can with water and add water. Stir until well blended.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato puree, then fill with 1½ cans of water and add water. Stir well.
  6. Pour in wine, add cheese and sugar. Stir well.
  7. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, basil, parsley and oregano.
  8. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce heat to low - just barely simmering.
  10. Meatballs: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over med/high heat in small pan.
  11. Add bell pepper and onion and saute until translucent and just beginning to brown, about 3-4 mins.
  12. Stir in garlic and continue to cook 2 more minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to room temperature.
  14. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl, add in pepper/onion/garlic mixture.
  15. Mix (I use my hands) until everything is combined, being careful not to over-mix!
  16. Form into balls, about 24. Again, don't over-handle or the meatballs will become tough.
  17. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil over med/high in large non-stick frying pan.
  18. Cook meatballs in 2-3 batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  19. Brown meatballs on all sides, turning frequently so they don't burn. Reduce heat if necessary.
  20. Add browned meatballs directly into sauce. They will continue to cook in the sauce.
  21. Cook sauce and meatballs uncovered at a very low simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 2 hours (can simmer for hours on the stove).
  22. Serve over pasta.

 

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Filed Under: Main Dishes, Recipe

Comments

8 responses to “Sunday Sauce and Meatballs”

  1. YUM. These meatballs looks AMAZING.

  2. Your recipes and your photography are fantastic, Cathy! I wish you all the best with your blog!

    Oh, and the meatballs look so scrumptious! I am pinning the recipe for later. I will cook it on Sunday 🙂

  3. Wendy says:

    I used turkey instead of beef, and I baked them instead of cooking them on top of stove. I lllllllooooovvvvvveeeee these. These are the best meatballs and sauce I’ve ever tasted. Thank you for the recipe. Two thumbs up!!!!!!

    • Cathy says:

      Awesome! So glad it turned out well for you Wendy! I just made these and am using the sauce for eggplant parm. A crowd pleaser on a gloomy football Sunday.

  4. LK says:

    After 90 mins the sauce is still thin from the water, will it thicken up?

    • Cathy says:

      It should definitely thicken and the longer it cooks, the thicker the sauce becomes and the better the flavor.

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