Mom's Sunday Dinner: Italian Ragu with Meatballs and Italian Sausage

Mom's Sunday Dinner:  Italian Ragu With Meatballs And Italian Sausage

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Annamaria Settanni McDonald


Mom's usual Sunday dinner served with Rigatoni, Cavatelli, Gnocci, Spaghetti or whatever pasta on hand. Real Italian sauce is made with very few ingredients, but so full of flavor. The meat in this recipe also flavors the sauce. Nothing beats my mom's Sunday dinner although it has slowed down since my father's passing but when she does do it, we bring our grumbling bellies to mom's. My mom would fry up some meatballs before putting them in the sauce and my brother and I would always pop a couple in our mouths since we were too eager to eat them! You can freeze the sauce with meat in batches and use as needed. This makes a lot as my mom always thinks she's feeding an army!


★★★★★ 4 votes

1 Hr
4 Hr 30 Min



  • 1 lb
    ground beef
  • 1 lb
    ground pork
  • 3 slice
    italian bread
  • 1/4 c
  • 2
  • 1/4 c
    chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 c
    pecorino romano cheese
  • ·
    salt and pepper
  • RAGU

  • 1/2 c
    extra virgin olive oil
  • 1
    medium onion, diced
  • 2 clove
    garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 qt
    crushed tomatoes or plum tomatoes in sauce
  • 12
    basil leaves (or oregano) to your liking
  • ·
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 lb
    italian sausage, hot
  • ·
    any pasta to serve with sauce
  • ·
    grated parmesan or romano cheese for garnish

How to Make Mom's Sunday Dinner: Italian Ragu with Meatballs and Italian Sausage


  1. In a large sauce pot (8-quart size minimum), heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil on a very low flame. Add the diced onion and cook slowly until it has turned translucent. Do not brown the onion, but allow it to almost melt away. Add the garlic cloves and very lightly cook them in the oil until golden before adding the tomatoes and all their juices. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the basil leaves and set the heat on low. Allow the tomatoes to cook at very low heat for at least 2 hours before adding the meat.
  2. Make the meatballs: mix the ground beef and veal together in a large bowl. Combine the bread and milk and mash together to form a paste; add the bread to the ground meat. Add the eggs, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture and combine all the ingredients using your fingers to mix uniformly, but do not over mix or the meat will dry out when cooked. Pick up 2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll it into a ball shape, between the palms of your hands. Do this until you have used all the meat. This should yield approximately 24 meatballs.
  3. Place the remaining olive oil in a heavy skillet and heat over medium flame. Add the meatballs in 1 layer and brown on all sides before removing. Do this to the remaining meatballs until all are browned to a caramelized color. After all the meatballs have been browned and removed from the skillet, add the sausage links and brown well, following the same method as the meatballs. When all the meat has cooked, add to the tomato ragu, which has been cooking for 2 hours and cook an additional hour. Serve the tomato ragu over rigatoni pasta cooked to directions on box. Serve the meats on another plate as a second course or with the pasta. (We always couldn't wait til the second course!)
  4. NOTE: If using plum tomatoes, make sure using a wooden spoon while cooking, you break up the tomatoes. You can also freeze this in batches and use when needed.
  5. You can make this sauce your own by adding what herbs you like. Oregano or Basil, All Beef Meatballs if you prefer. My mom did all the combinations. MANGIA!

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About Mom's Sunday Dinner: Italian Ragu with Meatballs and Italian Sausage

Course/Dish: Pasta Other Main Dishes
Regional Style: Italian
Hashtags: #sausage #Meatballs

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