Coming from an Italian family (or at least a half Italian family), all-day meat sauce is a way of life. It's a Sunday tradition, a source of pride and joy, a treasured family recipe. I have fond memories of my mom's sauce simmering on the stove for hours and coming back to stir it frequently. I have even better memories of sitting down to a giant plate of spaghetti, and then mopping up the remaining sauce with Boudin bread!
My mom makes that sauce to this day, but it's not something she's passed down to me. As most Polizzi Family recipes go, it's a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and no real rhyme or reason ... which is probably why my mom wasn't very helpful when I called her on Sunday to compare my recipe to hers.
Having watched her make this sauce millions of times, I was pretty confident that I could go it alone, without much guidance. But out of curiosity, I turned to the Google to see what I could turn up about other all-day sauces. And what I found sort of stunned me ... it turns out there's no need for my mom's sauce to cook all day after all!
True all-day sauce is typically a meat sauce in which the meat is cooked inside the sauce. That meat can be anything from a shank to spare ribs, but the point of simmering it all day long is for the meat to fall off the bone, resulting in a super tender, super flavorful, almost-a-meal-on-its-own sauce. You may commonly hear it called Sunday gravy. My mom's sauce doesn't quite qualify as Sunday gravy because the meat's not cooked in the sauce. (Unless, of course, she's making meatballs. But that's a different post.)
So aside from giving the flavors a chance to meld and marry, there's really no need to simmer this sauce all day. Which is why I cut it down to half a day! You'll still end up with something authentic ... or at least authentically Polizzi ... and totally mop-worthy :)
My Meat Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
2 links mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup red wine
1 can (mine was the size of a newborn, 6 lbs. 10 oz.) whole, peeled tomatoes
1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and sausage until no longer pink, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Add wine and bring to a simmer.
Begin crushing whole tomatoes with your hands prior to adding to pot. Add tomatoes and their juices to pot and continue breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon until almost smooth. Add tomato sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a steady simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, approximately 3 hours.
Remove lid from pot, stir in tomato paste, and return to a simmer. Continue cooking, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta ... and a big loaf of bread for mopping!