Sunday Sauce

Orecchiette with Sunday Sauce …

2016-05-13 22.27.37  FINISHED ORECCHIETTE

Sample of Sunday Sauce meat …

2016-05-13 22.41.42 - SAUCE MEAT PLATTER

(Click on PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size).

Hi everyone,

Today I was thinking about how I came to love Italian food and cooking. This passion started as a young girl.

First of all, I am using the word “macaroni” instead of pasta for my story because growing up it was always macaroni. I have no idea when it became “pasta”.

When I was a child my mother made so many wonderful dishes for dinner. Every day when I walked in the house after school, the house smelled wonderful (except for the nights she made tripe (2nd stomach of a cow) and potatoes for my dad- another story, another time).

I have to say that I took all those wonderful meals for granted at the time. That was just the thing my mom did – she cooked a delicious meal every night along with taking great care of her family. My mother made everything look effortless. She was just amazing. Cooking, cleaning, entertaining, she did it all.

As I got older, I realized that she was somewhat of a miracle worker too. She made everything from scratch and cooked on a 24 inch stove- hard to believe but true. Every Sunday when my father’s sisters and their families would come for dinner, my mother would not only have the best antipasti waiting for her guests but she made “homemade macaroni” with meat sauce, salad, roasted chickens and the best roasted potatoes EVER for at least a dozen people; sometimes more.

And I can’t even start to mention what she did on a holiday.


Here is a photo of Mom’s stove

Flowers34HollowLaneKitchen- MOM'S STOVE

 Back then, it was the same menu every Sunday– antipasti, macaroni, sauce meat  (eaten separately from the macaroni), roast chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, fruit & nuts, Italian pastry along with wine and espresso for adults. The children were only allowed soda on Sunday.

At the ripe old age of seven, once you made Communion, you were allowed to have a drop of wine in 7-up and taste demitasse coffee, complete with anisette and lemon.

A very special rite of passage.

Our Sunday meal lasted many hours and was wonderful to laugh, talk and make memories with your family.

I would hear my mother get up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to make the homemade macaroni and she would cut & shape the dough by hand. It was either tagliatelle, orecchiette or cavatelli. She would make the macaroni and when we woke up, they were drying on kitchen towels on the dining room table. What a sight to behold or should I say, what a blessing? She would start her sauce early in the morning for the three hour braising of the meat; which consisted of lamb, beef, pork and her famous meatballs.

My sisters and I would go to church and when we returned, the aroma was heavenly. A combination of meat sauce and basil…ahhh!

I had the prestigious job of “testing the sauce”. My mother would give me a fresh piece of Italian bread and I was allowed to dunk it in the sauce. I was in heaven.

When I became a mom, I passed this job on to my son. He is now an expert at testing sauce and he has picked up the Italian cooking gene; so we can keep our traditions going.

Fortunately for me, my son has been home for a visit this week and did the honors of testing this sauce for me; just like the good old days when he lived home.

2016-05-13 22.24.41-1 - MICHAEL BREAD

I don’t have my mom’s exact recipe, but here is the closest I could come to

 Mom’s Sunday Sauce.

I have also included a recipe for braciole and meatballs.

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sunday Sauce


2016-05-13 16.02.2 MEAT INGREDIENTS

2016-05-13 16.19.13 SAUCE INGREDIENTS

For the sauce:

 Lamb- either 1 pkg of neck bones, 1 pkg stew meat or loin chops

Sausage – 4-6 links hot AND 4-6 links sweet with fennel

Braciole- 1 lb. boneless beef round- store bought braciole or homemade (recipe below)

Spare Ribs- 1 lb. country style (optional)

4-5 (28 oz.) cans of San Marzano whole Italian tomatoes. (Put the whole tomatoes in a bowl and crush them with your hands or blend in a food processor or pass through a food mill- crushed by hand is traditional. For a thicker sauce, 1 can of puree can be substituted for 1 can of whole tomatoes).

Cooks Note: San Marzano tomatoes are the Best… read the can to make sure that they are imported from Italy- D.O.P.- Some brands say San Marzano, but are not imported – be careful…….I use Cento certified organic or Vantia DOP. There are many imported brands to choose from.

 1 (8 oz.) can of No salt Delmonte tomato sauce or organic sauce

2 Tbsp. tomato paste (I like Mutti from Italy the best)

1 cup red wine (whatever you like to drink)

1 cup water

Garlic, 3-4 cloves-minced

½ medium yellow onion, diced

Olive oil (approx. 3 tbsp. to cover the bottom of the sauce pan)

Fresh basil

Fresh bay leaf – 2

Red pepper flakes

Black pepper

(Salt to taste)

Grated cheese

Oregano, 1 tbsp.

Dried Basil, 1 tbsp.

Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp.

2 “Dorot” brand frozen garlic cubes

2 “Dorot” brand frozen basil cubes

Parmesan rind

Directions for the Sauce:

  • Let meat stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking
  • Heat oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat.
  • Pat the meat dry, season with salt and pepper and place in the pot in batches. Do not crowd the meat because it will steam and not sear.
  • Start with the lamb and pork ribs
  • Cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides.  Transfer the pork and lamb to a plate.
  • Place the braciole in the pot and brown on all sides.  Remove and set aside with the other meat.
  • Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside with the other meat.
  • Add the onions, garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until tender, 2-4 minutes
  • Add a small amount of wine to the pan to deglaze and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom
  • Add the crushed whole tomatoes, tomato paste, 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of water and mix well.
  • Add the braciole, lamb, pork ribs, and sausages plus any juices that may have accumulated on the platter back to the pot (the meatballs will be added later.)
  • Add 2 Dorot cubes of garlic, 2 Dorot cubes of basil, the Parmesan rind and the remainder of the red wine and mix well
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook over med low heat with the lid half on, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more water
  • Prepare your meatballs during this time.
  • When the sauce has cooked for 2 hours on low with the lid half on the pot, add the  meatballs.
  • Cooks note: Meatballs can be raw or fried …
  • Cook another 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the meat is tender
  • Remove all the meat from the sauce.
  • Prepare the macaroni as per package direction for al dente MINUS 2 minutes
  • Save some macaroni water
  • Drain the macaroni (DO NOT rinse with water-that takes away the starch) and return to the pot with the sauce. Stir well and cover the pot tightly.
  • Leave the macaroni alone for 2 minutes (the heat of the sauce will finish cooking the macaroni and absorb the sauce). If the sauce is too thick add some pasta water
  • When completed add the grated cheese, and chopped fresh basil and serve with the sauce meat—serve the sauce meat in a separate dish. Macaroni can be served with additional grated cheese and whole milk ricotta for a topping

Cooks Note: this will yield a few quarts of leftover sauce that you can freeze…

Step By Step Slideshow Directions:

START with the seasoned meat photo…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now for the meatballs…

Meatball Ingredients:

2016-05-13 18.39.42 - MEATBALL ING

1 lb. ground “grass fed” beef

1 lb. ground pork

1/2- 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs ( I average 3/4 cup)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Directions to make the meatballs:

  • Break up ground meat with the back of a spoon in a large bowl. Add the fresh parsley, grated cheese, chopped garlic, breadcrumbs and eggs and mix well with your hands. Mixture cannot be too wet or it will fall apart when trying to shape. If this occurs, add more breadcrumbs.
  • DO NOT overwork the meat
  • Use either a meatball gadget, melon baller or your hands and form 1” meatballs. (Hands rinsed with cold water prevent excessive sticking.)
  • Cooks Note: at this point there are two options, EITHER add the meatballs to the sauce raw or brown the meatballs first in a skilltet. Your choice…if you want to brown the meatballs, directions below.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides 1-2 minutes before adding to the sauce.

Step by Step Slideshow Directions:

START with breaking up ground meat…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



1 pound very thinly sliced boneless beef round

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Italian flavored bread crumbs

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions to make braciole:

Lay the beef slices on a work surface. 

Brush each piece with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Evenly spread the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, parsley, over the meat. 

Roll up each piece like a sausage.

Secure closed with a toothpick or tie with kitchen string.  Set aside.


I hope you try this recipe and enjoy a very traditional Sunday Sauce meal.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


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2 thoughts on “Sunday Sauce

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