Although this is not a recipe for a “lazy” gastronome, like me, it’s one of my family’s favorites. Many years ago, a friend taught me to make her grandma’s recipe, and grandma was born and raised in Italy! It doesn’t take a lot of work, it just takes a lot of time.
First, make the meatballs. Mix together the ground beef, onion, parsley, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and breadcrumbs.
Mix all the ingredients together well and form into balls. I make them about 1 ½ to 2 inches, but you can make whatever size you like. There will be onion pieces left in the bowl, but that’s ok. Just leave them there for now.
Using a large kettle, brown on all them in 2 Tablespoons olive oil, turning gently with a slotted spoon. Carefully remove them from the oil with the slotted spoon and set aside.
While the meatballs are browning, cut the Italian sausage links into 1 inch chunks.
Add them to the pot with 1 cup water, the garlic and the pieces of onion that are left in the bowl. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Lift the sausage pieces out and set aside with the meatballs. (It’s best to refrigerate them at this point. They won’t go in the sauce for a couple of hours.)
You’ve done the hard part. Now comes the simmering. Add the tomato paste to the water you cooked the sausage in. Mix well and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until it’s a very thick consistency. Cover lightly or use a spatter shield. It will spatter a lot!
Next, add the tomato sauce and 1 cup of water. Continue to simmer for the next two hours, adding water as needed and stirring occasionally. You’ll end up with a thickened sauce.
Open the can of tomatoes and pour in the juice. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes, squeezing until the start to come apart and put them in the pot. Add the oregano and ¼ cup parmesan. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, then return the meatballs and sausage to the pot. Simmer for about 30 more minutes, stirring often. The sauce should be thick.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to the package directions. We prefer al dente – which simply means its soft but still slightly firm. Drain the pasta and mix in 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons parmesan.
Add about 1/2 cup of the water from the pasta to the sauce. Let the sauce simmer another 15 minutes.
Place the pasta in a bowl with the sauce on top. Let each person top their bowl with more parmesan.