YIELD: 10-12 servings | TIME: 3 hours
1 ¼ pound ground sirloin
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
1 cup freshly ground breadcrumbs with parsley – see note
¾ cup freshly ground Parmesan Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste
½ rack of baby back ribs, with ribs sliced individually
4-14.5 oz. cans of Red Gold no salt added whole tomatoes
8 oz. can of Red Gold Tomato Paste (from a 12 oz. can)
1 celery stalk finely diced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3-4 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 large or 2 smaller carrots, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
Fresh parsley, rough chopped
Italian oregano and basil, dry
Fresh basil and Parmesan Reggiano for serving
Step 1: Place meat in a large bowl and lightly mix them together. The key is to not overmix the meat. Take breadcrumbs and place in a small bowl and pour enough milk over them to moisten. Set aside. Break two eggs into the bowl with the meat. Add the cheese and then the breadcrumbs. As you gently bring the entire mixture together, add salt and pepper so it will evenly disperse throughout everything. If you are unsure if you have seasoned it enough, you can take a small amount and cook it so you can taste and adjust.
Step 2: In a large Dutch oven heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions, carrot, celery in and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and ribs. Sauté until the ribs are slightly browned on all sides. They do not need to be seared. Add the red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate and slightly cook. This should not take longer than 2 minutes. Pour in wine and allow to reduce slightly, another couple of minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, take whole tomatoes and place them in your blender and blend them just until they are broken down. Pour the tomatoes into the pan. Add just enough water to bring the liquid 3/4th full. So you will want 2-3 inches left at the top. Stir to incorporate and add bay leaves. Turn on medium low temperature and allow the mixture to begin to simmer.
Step 4: Form meatballs the size of a golf ball. Begin gently placing them into the sauce. Yes raw. Trust me they will cook all the way through. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley, stir. Between the meatballs and ribs the sauce will thicken and become richer and more flavorful.
Step 5: Put lid on half way leaving room for the steam to exit which will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. At this point the sauce will need to cook for a couple of hours on medium low. You need to keep stirring it and keep an eye on it.
Step 6: About an hour into cooking time you can taste the sauce. At this time, I add salt and pepper. You don’t want to add salt and pepper too early. As the sauce reduces it will become saltier and you have the risk of over salting it. I add salt and pepper now – keeping in mind that the sauce will continue to reduce. Another hour into the cooking time I will check again for seasoning and add more if needed.
Step 7: Bring large pot of water to boil. Add palm full of salt. Be generous! This is your chance to add flavor to the pasta. Cook per the package instructions minus a minute. I cook my pasta slightly under and finish it in the sauce so it can absorb the flavors. Drain the pasta. Put back in the pot you used to cook the pasta (minus the water) and add several ladles of the sauce. Add enough for all the pasta to have sauce on them, but do not drown them in sauce. Put heat on low and gently toss the pasta in the sauce until cook al dente (firm to the bite). Twist the pasta and place in a bowl and serve with a little more sauce, several meatballs, some parmesan cheese and fresh basil. ENJOY!
NOTE: Purchase a loaf of Italian bread. Remove the crust. My husband loves to toast the crust or use it later to dip into the sauce. Either way it is a yummy way to use it! Remove the bread from inside and roughly chop. Place in food processor along with 2-3 tablespoons of fresh parsley and pulse until bread crumbs are created. Freeze whatever you don’t use and they will last for 3 months in the freezer. Additionally, you may need to add a small amount of sugar if tomatoes are too acidic – 1 teaspoon should be sufficient!