Considering that I’m technically a WASP (though I would think that the high concentration of peasant blood running through my veins would disqualify me in any real way) and didn’t have anything other than jarred sauce until I was in my 20s, I make a mean pot of tomato sauce and meatballs. No tricks or fanciness here, just straightforward, substantial, winter-friendly, delicious food, perfect for eating while a big snowstorm rolls in. I like my meatballs very small — I got six dozen out of a pound of meat — so that you can get pasta and a whole meatball on your fork at once. I sometimes use a combination of beef and lamb, but the butcher I go to keeps a blend of ground beef and pork ready to go, so I’ve switched over to that for now.
Meatballs and Sauce
1 lb. ground meat, any combination of beef, lamb, and pork
1/2 c. grated parmesan
salt and spices (I used about a teaspoon of something called Happy Salt that my mother found who-knows-where and decanted into a ziploc for me. It seems to be a mixture of salt, garlic powder and pepper, but would have used oregano and parsley otherwise)
2 large onions, chopped
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 c. red wine
Mix the meat, egg, spices, and cheese with a fork or your hands. Mix in bread crumbs until mixture holds together and isn’t sticky. Roll into marble-sized balls. Heat a little olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large saucepan. Working in batches, brown all of the meatballs on all sides and set aside.
In the same pan, add the onions and cook until soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Put the meatballs back in the pot, add the crushed tomatoes and the juice from the whole tomatoes. Chop the whole tomatoes or squeeze them through your fingers into the pot. Stir in the wine. Let simmer for two hours or until sauce is thickened.