In my inaugural post, I mentioned my grandmother's Sunday meat sauce. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I decided that such a noble dish deserved more than just a passing mention. After all, this sauce (we always called it gravy), was an integral part of our family life when I was growing up. It wasn't so much about the sauce itself (though it was delicious), but what it represented. Family. Security. Love. In today's transient society, so many of the traditions and rituals we followed as kids have fallen by the wayside. Marriages, careers, births, deaths and other life-altering events chip away at them, a little at a time. Before we know it, they are gone. It saddens me to think that my daughter will never have many of these experiences that have formed and shaped me into the person I am. All is not lost, though. I can give her new experiences. I can recreate some traditions. I can make the Sunday sauce!
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground chuck
For the sauce:
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Do not overhandle or the meatballs will be tough. The mixture should be moist, but hold together. If the mixture appears too wet, add more bread crumbs, a little at a time. If it is too dry, add a little more milk.
Form into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. You should get 18-20 meatballs out of this recipe.
Place meatballs and sausages in a shallow baking sheet and bake until they start to get browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Put whole tomatoes into a large bowl. With your (clean) hands, squish and mush them until they are all broken up. Then add the crushed tomatoes to the bowl with them. Set aside.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrots and thyme. Saute about 6 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent.
Add the tomato paste and gently incorporate it into the saute. Let it cook for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir, mixing everything together.
Add the red pepper flakes and half of the basil. I usually like to add a little salt at this point as well.
Stir again, cover the pot and wait for the sauce to begin to bubble.
Gently lower the meatballs and sausages into the sauce.
Uncover the pot and let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes more.
Fill another large pot with water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain
Add the rest of the basil and more salt to taste.
Place the pasta on a large serving platter and ladle the sauce on top. Toss well. Top it off with the meatballs and sausages.
Sprinkle some grated cheese on top.
Serve and enjoy!