I’ve been away for a while, so I thought as a comeback I would deliver the mother-load of Italian recipes — Sunday Sauce! Sunday is family lunch day and unless there’s something substantial happening, then we have pasta with meat sauce. The type of pasta may vary and what’s in the sauce might change from week to week, but Sunday Sauce it is, religiously (pun intended). This is something to look forward to all week long. A hot dish of pasta, topped with fresh mint and cheese, followed by some variety of meat that's been cooked slowly in the sauce, and a fresh salad. Perfection!
There are probably at least a million ways to make Sunday Sauce with different combinations of meat. In fact, there are at least a dozen variations in how my mother makes it. For this recipe, I took into consideration a balance of tradition and time — in other words, a traditional sauce in a reasonable amount of time. My family typically uses homemade tomato puree, but I tested the recipe with canned tomato puree (such as Pastene) and it works very nicely!
One last point before we begin, there are many arguments for adding sugar or carrots to the sauce to counter the acidity of the tomatoes. My family simply does not do this. I was thinking that maybe this is because we've gotten used to particularly acidic sauce, but then thought, all the guests we’ve ever served sauce to, loved it. So we’re most definitely doing something right and we don’t add sugar.
2 - 28 ounce cans of tomato puree or ground peeled tomatoes
3 ounces of tomato paste
4-5 pork short ribs, separated
2-3 Italian sausages
8-10 meatballs (see Meatball recipe)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for frying
1 pound of your favorite pasta
In a dutch oven or large heavy stainless steel pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and add the garlic. Just as the garlic slightly browns add the tomato puree and tomato paste and stir. Set to medium heat and let it come to a simmer.
If you’ve just fried meatballs, then use the same hot oil you used for the meatballs to fry the remaining meat. If you’re using meatballs you’ve previously made and froze, fill a small frying pan a third of the way with olive oil and heat over medium-high to high heat. Pat the short ribs and sausages dry using paper towels and add to the hot oil. As the short ribs and sausages fry, dark matter will come out; this is blood and bone marrow. Gently scrape it from the meat leaving it in the oil; adding this to the sauce will turn it dark. Remove the short ribs and sausages and add them directly to the sauce. Stir gently and add the meatballs. Very carefully add about 1/2 a cup of the hot oil olive leaving any particles that came off the meat in the pan. There is no need to measure the oil, just eye ball it (the oil is hot and attempting to measure it is dangerous). If you’re not confident in handling the hot oil, wait for it to cool a little before performing this step. Once the oil is added, gently stir again so that all the meat is submerged in the sauce. Set the lid half way on the pan and simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours over medium heat. Stir often, especially in a dutch oven because it will stick to the bottom.
Once the sauce is done, remove from heat and set aside. Fill a large pot with water, add about a tablespoon of salt, and heat over high heat. When the water comes to a full boil add the pasta. Cook the pasta to your cook preference or the package instructions.
As the pasta cooks remove the meat from the sauce and set aside in a platter. Cover the platter with a lid or aluminum foil to keep warm. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it well and add it back to the pot you boiled it in. Add 2-3 ladle fulls of sauce and stir. Plate the pasta and add a little more sauce to the top. Serve with parmesan cheese, crushed peppers, and chopped mint for toppings. Eat the meat as a second course with a salad and voila you just had a traditional Italian Sunday meal.
If you're using homemade tomato puree, substitute the canned tomatoes for two quarts of homemade tomato puree and use six ounces of tomato pasta instead of three.
Use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce as a metal one will cut the meatballs, leaving you with Bolognese sauce instead of sauce with meatballs.
Always add salt to the pasta water before boiling. Never add oil. There are some arguments that oil keeps the pasta from sticking, instead, boiling the pasta with enough water keeps it from sticking. Oil makes the outside of the pasta slick, so that the sauce slides off the pasta instead of sticks to it. The sauce sticking to the pasta is the flavor!
The recipe says to use your favorite pasta, but I don’t really mean that. Please, please, please don’t use spaghetti with this recipe for the love of God! It’s simply not the right pasta for meat sauce. Meat sauce requires a pasta with a lot of surface area for the sauce adhere to. So what I mean by “your favorite pasta” is use “your favorite of my approved pastas for this recipe”: penne, rigatoni, fusilli, ravioli, or other such pastas.
Dressing the pasta in the pot you boiled it in instead of a bowl helps keep the pasta hot. The pot is hot, while a bowl would be cold and cool the pasta. Plus, getting another bowl dirty means you have one more bowl to wash! The pot is already dirty!