Simple Tomato Sauce with Meatballs
Serves: 8 to 12
  • 1 pound each: ground beef (90/10) and ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 7 garlic minced cloves, divided
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat!)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 each: celery stalks and carrots, cut into small dice
  • 2 tablespoons (double concentrated) tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 cans of whole tomatoes, packed in puree
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix ground meats, eggs, breadcrumbs, 2 garlic cloves, cheese, parsley, ¼ teaspoon pepper flakes, ¾ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Form mixture into 24 balls, arranging them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until firm and brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; saute until very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; sauté until fragrant, about another minute. Add tomato paste, remaining ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and thyme; sauté for another minute. Add bay leaves and wine; simmer for another 2 minutes.
  3. Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and squeeze them with your hands to break them up (but not too much!). Add tomatoes, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered and adding the meatballs as they emerge from the oven, until the sauce has reached desired flavor and consistency, 1 to 1½ hours. If sauce is getting too thick before the meatballs have been simmered for an hour or more, just add water and keep simmering. (Can be cooled, covered and refrigerated up to 5 days and frozen for several months.)
  4. When ready to serve, warm sauce and meatballs and serve with your favorite pasta.
You can also simmer the meatballs in the sauce in a 425 degree oven for an hour or so. If you don’t feel like pulling out your food processor to make breadcrumbs, simple grate them on the coarse holes of a box grater.
Recipe by Three Many Cooks at