Growing up, Sunday afternoons meant pasta at grandma and grandpa’s. My little Italian grandma would make the sauce, which simmered on the stove all day filling the house with most mouth-watering aroma. My grandpa was in charge of making homemade noodles, which he hand cranked through the pasta machine. His tired, aged hands would knead bread dough over and over again in order to make the best garlic bread you’ve ever had. Everything about Sunday spaghetti was made from scratch, and if you dare bring a pan of brownies made from a boxed mix, you were automatically signing yourself up for the gentle harassment of my grandfather.
To say this is my all-time favorite spaghetti sauce is an understatment….partly due to the memories attached to it, and partly because it tastes so good. The sauce simmers for about 5 hours, allowing the flavors to really meld together, and the sauce to thicken up nicely. Traditionally, my grandma’s sauce consisted of three different meats: meatballs, Italian sausage, and….chicken wings. Yes, chicken wings. Completely weird, but delicious at the same time. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! As a small child, I was known to eat a flock of chicken wings on Sundays. In fact, my cousin and I would have competitions to see who could eat more. By allowing the meat to simmer in the sauce, it gives the sauce a really nice flavor without it actually being a meat sauce.
So, when you find yourself on a lazy Sunday and have a craving for comfort food, throw a pot of sauce on the stove and relax while it simmers the day away. It makes a ton of sauce, but it freezes beautifully so you can have homemade spaghetti and meatballs whenever the craving strikes.
Grandma’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
Yields: About 8 cups
For the sauce:
2 (28oz) cans tomato puree
6 cups of water
1 small can of tomato paste
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1 pound chicken wings
2 links spicy Italian sausage
Pour the tomato puree, water and tomato paste into a large stockpot. Add in the red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and sugar, then stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. When the sauce reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium, and slowly add in the baking soda. (Don’t add it too fast, or the sauce will boil over).
After you’ve started the sauce, add the onion, garlic and oil to a frying pan. Sautee over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrent. Remove from the heat and add the onion and garlic to the sauce. If you’re adding chicken wings, brown the wings in the skillet then add to the sauce. (You’ll want to remove the chicken wings about halfway through cooking, or they’ll fall apart. You can add them back into the sauce at the end)
To make the meatballs, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl with you hands until well mixed. In the palm of your hand, shape into meatballs then add back to the frying pan. Brown the meatballs on all sides over medium heat, then drop the meatballs into the sauce. Add the sausage into the sauce, uncooked.
Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 5 hours or so, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and set aside in a separate bowl. Serve over your favorite pasta.
Source: A Stick a Fork in It original recipe.