Meatballs and Italian Sausage Spaghetti Sauce

Any type of Italian food will rank the highest on my favorite comfort foods list. Spaghetti and meatballs is probably number one and lasagna is knocking on the door. The reason I like it so well is the versatility of the meatballs and sausage in the sauce. You can do spaghetti one night and a day later, meatball grinders when the pasta is gone. I have a few variations of how I prepare the meatballs and sauce. If I'm really short on time, I'll make a chopped beef meat sauce. The majority of the time, I will make this pork and beef version. However, if I'm hankering for some Italian sausage in the mix, this is how I throw it together. 

My Mother always cooks whole Italian sausage in her sauce for the flavor. She's not crazy about the sausage, but my Daddy loved it so in it went. If you raise boys, you learn to not put whole sausages in a pot of sauce unless you want to hear a bunch of comments you don't want to hear around the table. I typically buy the mild sausage, but the hot is fine by me too. If you've got picky ones, stick with the mild and hope they don't bite into the fennel seeds.

INGREDIENTS: (Makes about  24 meatballs)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning (I like Sicilian)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper)
  • 5 Italian Sausage links
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 oz. good quality white wine to deglaze the pot
  • 2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • Italian seasoning, salt  and pepper to taste 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl mix all the meatball ingredients. Form them into golf ball sized balls.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the meat starts to separate.
While the meatballs are cooking, I start cooking the sausage and making the sauce.
Remove casings from sausage links and cut into 1" pieces. In a large pot heat the olive oil on medium-high.

Drop in the Italian sausage pieces in and stir constantly.

When the outside is nicely browned, deglaze the pot with white wine. Use a good quality drinking wine. If it doesn't taste good enough to drink, your sauce won't taste good either!

Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes to the pot  along with additional Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring it to a slow boil, stir frequently. Taste the sauce after 20 minutes or so to determine if it needs additional seasoning.

Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the pot. Slowly mix them into the sauce. Bring the sauce back to a slow boil; turn heat down to medium low; cover and let simmer for two hours. Check on the sauce several times and stir. If it's bubbling too much, turn it on low.


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