Homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

Julia Ferguson Recipe

By Julia Ferguson judyjellybean

This make a lot, and enough to freeze for later.
1 Hr
6 Hr
Stove Top

This is my family's recipe. My mother always made this for our birthday dinner. It's one of those recipes that needs to cook all day. So one of these winter days when you don't want to get out and you want something hearty and flavorful make this for your family. The aroma coming from the kitchen will keep their stomachs growling all day. But well worth the agony and wait.
My mom always served this with an Anitpasta Salad and Garlic Bread.

pinch tips: How to Grease a Pan


****spaghetti sauce:******
olive oil (enough to just cover the bottom of the pan)
3-5 clove
garlic peeled
3-4 6 oz can(s)
tomato paste
2-3 28 oz can(s)
tomato sauce
1-2 28oz can(s)
tomato puree
1 Tbsp
italian seasoning
1/2 - 1 Tbsp
garlic powder
1 tsp
ground black pepper
bay leaves
salt, to taste (the parmesean cheese at the end will add to the saltyness as well)
1 pinch
1-2 large
handful of parmesean cheese, at the end
2-3 lb
ground sirloin
1-2 lb
ground chuck
1 large
onion, finely chopped
2-3 clove
garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 - 1 tsp
italian seasoning
1-2 tsp
ground black pepper
1 Tbsp
dried parsley
handful of italian bread crumbs
handfuls of parmesean cheese
eggs (depends on the moisture content of the meat)

Directions Step-By-Step

This makes a lot of sauce, so you will need a very large soup pot with a good weight to it.
Cover bottom of pan with olive oil (you want just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan) begin to warm the oil gently.
Place peeled garlic cloves in oil, on low heat cook cloves until just starting to lightly blister. Do not let garlic brown or burn, it will give the sauce a clovey taste. Remove garlic.
Add tomato paste, one can at a time, throughly incorporating the olive oil into the tomato paste each time. I find this is easier to do with a wire wisk.
Add tomato puree mixing throughly.
Add tomato sauce and mix well.
At this point some water can be added, as the sauce will be cooking at least 6 hours and will thicken as it cooks. I wouldn't add more than 2 of the paste cans full of water. Mix well.
Add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, bay leaves and salt. Additional cloves of garlic can be added. depends on how garlicky you want the sauce.
Cover pan with lid cocked and simmer on low for at least 6 hours. Stirring occasionally, to keep sauce from sticking to bottom.
While the sauce is getting hot, mix together the meatballs, see below.
My mother used veal in her meatballs. The price of veal is so expensive I have started using ground sirloin and ground chuck. The rule of thumb here is to use 2 parts lean veal or sirloin to 1 part ground chuck.
Mix together, ground sirloin(or veal), ground chuck, finely diced onion and garlic, italian seasoning, ground black pepper, parsley, bread crumbs, parmesean cheese and eggs.
Using a spoon (I like to use my large cookie scoop) take a good amount of meat mixture and roll in the plam of your hand, forming a ball. The meatballs should hold together, and be about the size of a golfball. I like to get a plateful of meatballs made then drop them into the hot sauce, then go back and make another platefull to be dropped in the sauce. Repeat until all meatballs have been added to sauce. Gently, so as not to break up meatballs, push and stir the sauce to get the meatballs down into the sauce.
Cover with lid cocked, so steam can escape and thicken the sauce. Simmer on low on the stove top. After about 1/2 hour check the meatballs and stir carefully, making sure the meatballs do not stick.
The sauce and meatballs should cook at least 6 hours or longer if you like.
About 1 hr before serving add pinch of sugar and stir well, being careful not to breakup the meatballs. Add the parmesean cheese. Mom never stired the cheese into the sauce, she just let it melt into the sauce. Be careful after adding the sugar and cheese, as they could cause the sauce to stick on the bottom. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Serve sauce and meatballs over hot cooked pasta and a sprinkle of parmesean cheese on top.

About this Recipe

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Sher Bird Litehouse9
Nov 6, 2011
Julia, how wonderful to share a treasured, tried-and-true old family recipe. I love those, and appreciate being able to have this one. My own Mom never taught me to cook, and left behind very few recipes, so I treasure ones from other people's Moms!
Nov 6, 2011 - Julia Ferguson shared a photo of this recipe. View photo
Straws Kitchen CinCooks
Nov 6, 2011
Thanks for sharing an old family recipe Julia.
Sounds gooood.
Julia Ferguson judyjellybean
Nov 6, 2011
Sher and Cin, thanks for the comments. My mom didn't leave many recipes, but thank goodness I was right there taking it all in when she cooked. She didn't mind when my sisters and I got into the kitchen when she was cooking, she had us help with all the tasks, especially washing and drying the dishes when the meal was over.
Straws Kitchen CinCooks
Nov 6, 2011
...=;D I can relate to that (I still do not have an automatic dishwasher so I DO a lot of dishes).
Julia Ferguson judyjellybean
Nov 6, 2011
Cin, The Hubs and I remodled (gutted) our kitchen about 15 years ago. Did we put in a dishwasher? That answer would be no, and we still don't have one, so I do a lot of dishes too. I did up the dishes before dinner tonight and the Hubs did up the dishes after dinner. He does do the dishes, especially when I have been on my feet all day cooking. I just wished he would wear his glasses when he does them, because I end up having to redo them. That's why he doesn't want me drying when he washes, because I throw them back into the dishwater.
Straws Kitchen CinCooks
Nov 6, 2011
hahahahaha...been there too, my Hubby does dishes too (or should I say atempts to). Most of the time he does a pretty good job though, it's just if he's in a hurry that.....!!!
Toni T Toni6921
Nov 6, 2011
Judy, thank you for sharing your Mom's recipe. I will think of her everytime I make it. I didn't have daughters, but my oldest granddaughter, who will be 13 in January, loves to be in the kitchen with me. When she was in diapers, I would sit her on my lap while we watched cooking shows.
Sher Bird Litehouse9
Nov 6, 2011
Here's one most people cannot understand. We remodeled our kitchen, and we DID put in a dishwasher. BUT: I would rather hand wash stuff! One of the few household chores I enjoy! For big dinners or holidays, I use the dishwasher (about 5 times per year), but otherwise, I much prefer to hand wash. I guess the thing I most dislike about the dishwasher is PUTTING IT ALL AWAY... somehow I don't mind doing that frm the dish drying rack. I knw-- I'm strange!
Straws Kitchen CinCooks
Nov 6, 2011
...=;D I don't mind hand washing the dishes either, guess if I did I'd buy an automatic one (but not gona).
Jan W Neeniejan
Nov 6, 2011
Julia, thanks for sharing this recipe!! I've always made my own sauce to can/freeze but this sounds so good, I've got to try it!!!
Yes, veal in the meatballs would be great...what about meatloaf mix (beef/veal/pork? Or maybe beef and turkey? lol, just curious...I'd def try it the way you have it here first before I'd mess with the meatball recipe! ♥
Julia Ferguson judyjellybean
Nov 6, 2011
Jan, I suppose you could use meatloaf mix?? The idea is to keep as much fat out of the sauce as possible. I'm just not a fan of the idea of pork in meatballs. But go ahead and put your own spin on it.
Jan W Neeniejan
Nov 6, 2011
I didn't think about the fat getting into sauce...if I were to put pork or meatloaf mix in it, I'd probably bake the meatballs on a rack & then put in sauce to cook for a couple hours...
Your recipe sounds great just the way it is...:)