As any of my readers know, I love Italian food and I am particularly partial to the real Italian comfort food which has been practiced in kitchens with the loving hands of the nonna’s or Italian grandmothers.
Sunday is a special day when the family comes together for a big meal and while each family has their own traditions of which dishes are served. In the US, the tradition of the Sunday Sauce is essential.
While this is a marinara base, the key is the slowly braised meats which flavor the sauce and then impart a flavor to the sauce that is beyond delicious. You can also add braciole, lamb necks and/or veal knuckles etc, but this is optional. Bottom line, if you cook anything in a tomato sauce for 3-4 hours, it will come out great.
The key, as with all comfort food, is to use the best ingredients, take your time and layer the flavors. Here is what you will need.
½ lb ground Beef
½ lb ground Pork
2 Tbsp Grated Romano Cheese
2 Tbsp Breadcrumbs, I like panko breadcrumbs or plain.
1 Egg, beaten
1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, this is my secret weapon for killer meatballs.
5 Italian Sausages, sweet/hot or both, cut in half
1 or 2 Beef Short Ribs, depends on size. Try to find them around 3 to 4 inches; the larger ones do not fit in the pan well. You can also have the butcher cut them in half.
1 or 2 Pork Ribs, country style is good. Same size as above.
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, smashed with side of knife and loosely chopped
1 cup finely diced Onion
½ finely diced Carrot
½ cup finely diced Celery
¼ cup Marsala Wine
2 32oz cans of whole San Marzano Tomatoes, puréed in a food processer
1 Tbsp Salt
First, prepare your meatballs and by combining all ingredients. Start with the meat, then salt and cheese, work it together then add your beaten egg and gently work the mixture and lastly add your breadcrumbs 1 Tbsp at a time until it comes together. Roll into 2 inch diameter meatballs and put into the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take your beef and pork ribs and salt and pepper both sides and put onto a foil lined baking sheet or griddle, then place the prepared meatballs and sausages onto the same sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
To make your sauce, start with a large heavy duty sauce pan, which will hold the heat and give you a consistent low simmer. A cast iron Le Cruset is perfect. Larger is better, as you don’t want to crowd the meat.
Heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Stir frequently and make sure to add ½ of the salt and some pepper to the mixture. When it is sautéed and translucent, add your Marsala wine and cook until the wine is gone (about 3-4 minutes), then add the tomatoes and bring up to a soft boil.
Once the meat is finished, gently add it into the sauce, add the rest of the salt and softly simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve over rigatoni or fusilli with grated Romano and Parmesan cheese.