Makes about 8 cups, enough to fill and sauce lasagna or to dress about 2 pounds of pasta.
This sauce has to be a favorite in every Italian American home. If for nothing else, all the love and time that goes into making it puts it high up on the cook’s list of favorites. It evokes memories of the Sunday table, all the family gathered around, the celebrations that bubbled up as you ate together. One of my best Sunday memories is the aroma of the Sunday sauce permeating the house early in the morning, which leads to the memory of laughter at the table. I know many of you share the delightful memory of Sunday sauce with me.
(The sauce can be prepared entirely in advance and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months, so any extra sauce will stay well.)
- Two 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 5 or 6 meaty pork neck bones (about 3/4 pound—ask your butcher to set them aside for you)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 4 fresh or 5 dried bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano, preferably the Sicilian or Greek type dried on the branch, crumbled
- 3 to 4 cups hot water
Pass the tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with the fine blade. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Make a little room in the center of the pot to dump in the garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the pork bones and cook, turning, until the bones are lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and pork and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat turns from pink to pale brown and the water it gives off is boiled away, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and oregano, then pour in the wine. Bring to a boil and cook, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the pot, until the wine is almost completely evaporated.
Pour the tomatoes into the pot, then stir in the tomato paste until is dissolved. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce takes on a deep, brick-red color, 2 to 3 hours. Add the hot water, about ½ cup at a time, to maintain the level of liquid for the length of time the sauce cooks. Skim off any fat floating on top and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve over your favorite pasta.