Italian · Mediterranean

Sunday Sauce

Sunday sauce is a rich meaty traditional sauce to serve for a big family meal. It is best cooked low and slow for several hours. You can also add Italian sausage and or meatballs to the sauce, depending on the size of your meal. This makes a very double portion. I use it for a meal for 5-8 people, and freeze the rest for another meal in the future.

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 4 pork short ribs (around a 1lb)
  • 1/4 pound pancetta
  • several Italian sausage links, spicy or sweet depending on preference*
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion chopped 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes.
  • 2 pounds penne, ziti or pasta or your choice (one that can support a hearty meat sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste* if needed
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron pot, heat 2 Tbs olive oil until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the casserole in a single layer along with the sausage links. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, around 10 minutes. With tongs, transfer the short ribs and sausages to a plate and set aside..
  2. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add 2 more Tbs of olive oil. Add the onions & carrot, and a generous pinch of salt; cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, pancetta and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the vegetables and pancetta with 1/3 cup red wine until the liquid is evaporated.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Be sure to rinse a little of each can with some extra water to get all the bits, swirl it around and add to the pot. Season with red pepper flakes and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  4. Return the short ribs, sausages and their juices to the pot, cover partially and simmer over low heat, turning the short ribs occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. 30 minutes before serving: Set a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. For your Sunday sauce – add fresh basil leaves 30 minutes before serving. Add more oregano or salt as needed. If necessary, add tomato paste in the last half hour to thicken the sauce as needed. Finish off the sauce with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
  6. 20 minutes before serving: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. and set aside
  7. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Transfer the pasta and toss well with some of the sunday sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add some of the reserved pasta water and work it in. Top with additional cheese and pieces of meat from the sauce.

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