Sunday sauce is a way of life for my family. We Italians love pasta, meatballs and family. My family did this whole shebang every single Sunday. Grandma would get up early to fry up meatballs and make the sauce in a massive pot. It would bubble and simmer all day, filling the house with cozy aromas. When we all arrived mid-afternoon, my first priority was to dunk a hunk of bread deep into the sauce.
This comfort food is ingrained in me, becoming my utmost craving every weekend. This weekend I decided to riff Grandma’s classic smooth marinara and create a ragù.
The best part is that I emptied out the refrigerator for this ragù. Bone-in pork chops? check. Orange pepper? check. Celery? Carrots? Cherry tomatoes? Half an onion? Check, check check…I added a guzzle of red wine, threw in a can of beautiful San Marzano tomatoes and let it cook low and slow in the oven.
Want to eat like an Italian on Sunday? Remember these words, Pecorino Romano. That’s the kind of Italian cheese you need to keep in your fridge at.all.times.
It has a strong umami flavor that Parmesan cheese just does not have. Be generous, don’t be shy.
Grandma would get this cheese freshly grated by the bucketful at a Lebanese grocery store in New York. She would scoop handfuls of cheese into big plastic bags and disseminate them to all family members for the week.
Next, always have a bunch of basil on hand. Pot a small plant from Home Depot or even the grocery store, water daily and give it lots of sun. There is truly nothing like fresh ripped basil with pasta.
Grandma had a huge garden and was proud to have the best soil in the neighborhood. Every Sunday she would send someone outside to pluck several leaves from the plant to shower onto our pasta.
Bread. Bread is a must. The South does not a plethora of bakeries like New York, so I resort to making my own. I have the easiest No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread recipe that you will absolutely love.
Use it to sop up all the sauce and literally wipe your plate clean with it. Bread. Don’t forget butter.
Another staple? Pasta. I love making Homemade Pasta, it’s easy and rewarding. There is truly no comparison. BUT, if you don’t have time to make it from scratch, I recommend buying fresh pasta from your local grocery store. It is in the refrigerated section and so much better than dried out boxed pasta.
Lastly, gather loved ones, eat until your stomach bursts and talk really loud.
- 2-3 pounds bone-in pork chops or beef short ribs or any bone-in meat
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 medium pepper, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 10-15 cherry tomatoes (optional, I had some in the fridge)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- any herbs you got: parsley, thyme, basil, oregano
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 5-6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 pound fresh pasta (I used fettuccine, but I LOVE pappardelle for this recipe)
- 1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
- crusty bread, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350°. Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high on the stove top. Working in 2 batches, brown meat on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.
- Add vegetables to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine and can of tomatoes with the juices.
- Add meat back into the dutch oven. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add all herbs, bay leaves and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
- Cook until meat is tender, about 2½ hours. When tender, shred meat with a fork and remove all bones from sauce.
- 20-30 minutes before sauce is done, boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain. Toss pasta in sauce. Transfer pasta and sauce to a platter.
- Top with Pecorino Romano Cheese and fresh basil leaves.