Sunday Sauce


Sunday Sauce and Meatballs

If I had $1 for everyone who asked me if I was going to include this in my cookbook, I would almost have as much money as I had from everyone saying that their mother, grandmother, nonna, or nana, made the best Sunday sauce. Sunday sauce and meatballs fulfills a need so basic, so primal, that it needs no introduction. In law, we call it Res Ipsa Loquitur, Latin for “that which speaks for itself.” Everyone has their own way of making Sunday sauce, and of course, everyone believes theirs is the best. I once read a funny saying: “If an Italian lady invites you over to eat at her house, she either really likes you or she just wants to show you that her sauce is better than yours.” For my non-Italian friends who have never made this: this one is for you. For my Italian friends, I won’t be offended if you skip this one and turn the page, in fact, I’d expect it and probably do the same to you! Ha! 
Servings 35 meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


Ingredient for Meatballs

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pound of ground pork 
  • 1 pound of ground veal
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooled tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • Vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil, for frying 

Ingredients for Sauce

  • 1 pound of lean, bone-in pork chops (or you can use braciole, short ribs, spare ribs or whatever combination of meat you prefer)
  • 1 pound of veal shoulder, cut into chunks 
  • 1/2-pound hot Italian sausage with fennel 
  • 3 cans of 28-ounce crushed San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 2 small onions, chopped 
  • 2 cups of fresh basil 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 pound of beef chuck meat, cubed 
  • 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage 
  • 1 cup of dry red wine 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper 


Instructions for Meatballs

  • With gloved hands, gently combine all ingredients together in a large bowl (except the oil) and shape meatballs into a little bit larger than a golf ball size (2-3 inches) and lay them on parchment paper, careful not to overwork the meat.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan or deep skillet over until the oil is very hot but not smoking.
  • Brown the meatballs in batches over medium to high heat. When the bottom half of the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp, gently with tongs, turn and cook the top half, several minutes on each side until cooked fully. Drain on paper towels and set aside. 

Instructions for Sauce

  • Season all meat cubes with salt and pepper. In a large pot over medium heat, heat some of the oil and sear the veal and beef cubes separately until browned. As you don’t want to overcrowd the meat, you will do this step in batches so they will get a nice brown crust. Transfer them to a plate. Don’t worry if the meat is not cooked through because it will finish cooking in the sauce. 
  • Brown the pork chops in the same pan over medium heat, about 10 minutes, adding extra oil if necessary. Transfer to a plate.
  • Over the same medium heat, do the same with the sausages by themselves, adding extra oil as necessary, browning on each side. Transfer to a plate. Again, don’t worry if the sausage is not cooked through, as they will finish cooking while in the sauce.
  • In the same pot, over medium heat, deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 cup of dry red wine and scraping up the bits at the bottom with a flat edge wooden spoon. 
  • Add the chopped onion and another tablespoon of olive oil and saute about 2 minutes until they are soft and lightly browned, scraping the bottom of the pot with the wooden spoon, loosening up any stuck brown bits. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook about a minute or two, until golden, careful not to burn it. 
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of red wine and cook until the mixture is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
  • Add the veal, beef, sausage, pork chops and some meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for minimum 1 hour more over low heat, the longer the better.
  • In a separate large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, toss it with the sauce and serve immediately.


*Some people just brown the meatballs and allow them to cook fully in the sauce – however, if you like plain fried meatballs, as my family and I do (we don’t put them all in the sauce), you would fry them until fully cooked inside.
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