Well, not literally.

That would be gross.

Today’s recipe is a special one.

It is my greatest comfort food.

It is what tastes like home.

It brings me joy to make it, serve it, and eat it.

When I was growing up, my parents packed up the conversion van with my 4 siblings and me about once a month. We took off to visit our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The weekend would always follow the same general plan… Friday and Saturday nights were spent with my dad’s side of the family, and then Sunday was spent with my mom’s side.

We always, always, always wrapped up the trip with a big family meal at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house where she served us pasta with her sauce and meatballs.

My siblings and cousins and I would vie for seats next to each other around the cramped kitchen table. If everyone showed up, we’d have to move to the basement to accommodate all those faces around the table.

On occasion, we’d sit out back at a picnic table.

Even on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would have pasta.

That’s the way it was.

And while the trips are less frequent now, that’s the way it still is.

And we all loved it.

And still do.

Grandma isn’t the only sauce maker.

My mama makes a mean pasta sauce.

And so does my brother.

And my aunts.

But lets be honest, no one can replicate Grandma’s sauce.

I suspect some day we’ll find the secret recipe card with the actual recipe on it.

It is a true statement that her version is impossible to make.

So, I’m not even going to attempt to.

The recipe I’m sharing today is a compilation of four different sauce and meatball making methods: Grandma, mom, brother, and my own.

Sauce first.

The ingredients are simple.

And I’m making a double batch. I like to make double because it is a long process, and because I like to make enough to freeze so that I have easy-peasy homemade meals ready to go on nights that involve working late or busy schedules.

So, here is what you’ll need for a DOUBLE recipe:

28 oz. of tomato puree- this can be kind of hard to find, but it is perfect for sauce because there are no seeds

28 oz. of whole San Marzano tomatoes- San Marzano tomatoes have a sweeter and less acidic taste. They are more expensive, but are worth the investment. You may have to look in the international foods aisle to find these guys.

Garlic- 3-4 cloves chopped up

2 cans of tomato paste

salt/pepper

Basil

2 bay leaves

Water

And that is it!

Put your cans of tomatoes into the pot.

Add in your chopped garlic, and then add 3 1/2 cans (the 28 oz size) of water.

Now, we get to use one of my favorite kitchen tools. I highly recommend this bad boy.

This is an immersion blender.

Stick it in your pot, and turn it on. It blends your sauce while completely chopping and blending in your whole tomatoes.

This tool is fantabulous.

It comes with a whisk and mini chopper attachment too. I found mine for $50, and it has been the handiest of handy affordable tools.

Throw in your bay leaves and a little salt.

Now, bring the sauce to a boil.

Whoa, Nelly!

Don’t let it boil over.

Sheesh, keep your eye on the pot for goodness sake.

Turn it down to simmer for an hour.

While that is simmering away, we shall make some meatballs.

Here’s what you’ll need for these balls of deliciousness.

2 1/2 lbs. of meat- my Grandma is a beef purist, my brother likes veal, pork, and beef… I like 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef and 1 lb. of ground pork. You can do whatever you like.

3 eggs

3/4 c. bread crumbs- I like the Italian seasoned version

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. italian parsley, chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped

2 shallots

1/2 c. parmigiano reggiano, grated

salt and pepper

Put your meat in a bowl.

Crack in your eggs and dump in the bread crumbs.

Pour in your water.

Add in a sprinkle of salt. Probably about a 1/2 teaspoon.

Chop your parsley and add it to the party.

Garlic? Yes, Please!

Now, for the two small shallots.

I use a microplaner (also a great kitchen investment), and grate the shallots into the bowl.

I have made meatballs a thousand different ways, and I am convinced that grating the onion is game changer for achieving the ultimate consistency.

Find yourself some parmigiano reggiano. It won’t be hard for they carry this right in the regular grocery store.

You’ll know you have the right stuff because the name of it is printed right on the rind.

You can’t grate the grind, but save it for sure.

It is the perfect flavoring in lots of soup stocks.

For now, use that microplane again to shred the cheese into your bowl.

Here in the recipe I make a major departure from the family matriarch.

I don kitchen gloves (also available in the regular grocery store, and they are super handy for handling garlic/onion/hot peppers/raw meat or even mixing a salad with dressing).

The women in my life smell like meatballs for a day or two after making them because of the garlic on their skin.

And truth be told, I don’t always wear the gloves so I may smell like a hoagie from time to time.

However, when I know I’m going to be around others immediately after handling garlicky foods, I use the gloves.

Mix the meat.

But do not over mix it… that makes the meatballs tough.

You want to mix it just enough to combine the ingredients.

That’s it.

Now make your balls.

Of meat.

We’re searing the meatballs next.

I recommend a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.

Just brown all sides of the meatballs.

When browned transfer them to the sauce.

At this point, the sauce has already been simmering for one hour.

Once all of the meatballs are in, leave it to simmer for another full hour.

This is not a quick meal.

But sometimes slow and steady pays off.

That’s what she said.

Har. har.

Now, at this point you can just let everything simmer together. You would end up with a lovely batch of sauce and meatballs.

But I like to amp it up just a bit.

Chop up the holy trio- one carrot, one stalk of celery, and an equal amount of onion.

The French and fancy chefs call this trio a Mirepoix (meer-pwah).

But I call it the holy trio.

Throw that into the oil that you used to cook your meatballs.

Then brown up one bone-in pork chop and one spicy Italian sauasge.

My grandma has been known to throw in chicken wings. My brother has been known to throw in other pork cuts.

The meat on the bone does help to add serious depth of flavor to your sauce.

So have at it.

Now, I’m not sure this could be any better.

Oh wait.

Yep, wine.

There ya go.

After it is browned, move all of the meat to the sauce pot.

It does not have to be cooked through because it is going to finish cooking in the sauce.

Um, I think I need a bigger pot.

After an hour, pull the meatballs out.

Also pull out the chop and sausage.

Put them in your storage containers or on your pasta.

Add in your chopped basil.

I like to shred the chop and add it to the sauce.

Yum.

Pour your sauce on top of the meatballs.

Here I have four future meals and one meal for tonight.

Not too shabby.

All of the tupperware gets a layer of plastic wrap and then a lid.

Into the freezer until the day comes that I am burnt out and feeling uninspired- after a long day at work, I’ll be able to pull these out. I microwave it only to get it loosened from the side of the tupperware.

Then I put it in a covered pot and warm it over low heat.

Now, the main man and I enjoy the sauce and meatballs in decidedly different ways.

Brad loves a meatball sandwich.

White bread, four meatballs, some large shreds of the parm, some chopped basil, and some hot banana peppers.

I had a bite of this… To. Die. For.

I’m a purist.

Penne pasta (homemade when I’m feeling inspired- but not today) covered in sauce, parm, and basil with two perfect meatballs on the side.

This food is good for my soul.

Happy Monday my friends.

As always, I’m grateful you stopped by.

Lots of love,

Leah

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