There is a method to making the perfect sauce and that is a very long slow cooking time then refrigerate to blend the flavors, a good sauce needs time to "ripen" and develop it's full flavor, this sauce must be made a day or even up 4 days ahead in order for the flavors to intensify, the longer you leave it refrigerated the better it will be --- this recipe makes a fair amount use what you need then freeze the rest in plastic containers for another meal, for a quick thaw just pop in the microwave for about 8 minutes or a little more or thaw in refrigerator overnight, if desired you may partially precook the meatballs on a greased baking sheet in oven before adding to the sauce --- you will love this sauce and you will be making it often! ---- also see my Kittencal's Delicious Meaty Pasta Sauce
- prepared meatballs, recipe (see my Kittencal's Italian Melt-In-Your-Mouth Meatballs)
- olive oil (to cover bottom of the pot)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 1 -2 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (rubbed with fingers to release the oils)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil (rubbed with fingers to release the oils)
- 1 -2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or to taste)
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1⁄3-1⁄2 cup dry red wine (or to taste)
- 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (can use 3 cans if you plan of freezing some sauce)
- 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, well drained
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional and to be added in the last 30 minutes of cooking time)
- Prepare the meatball recipe as directed on the recipe; transfer to a plate cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (the meatballs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance).
- Drain the diced tomatoes over a strainer.
- Coat bottom of large heavy-bottomed pot with olive oil, heat over medium heat.
- Saute onion with bay leaf, oregano, basil, salt, black pepper and crushed chili peppers for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are transparent.
- Add in fresh garlic; cook stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste;mix and stir for about 2 minutes or until well combined with the onion mixture.
- Add in the wine; stir well to combine.
- Add the 2 cans crushed tomatoes (can use 3 cans if you are freezing some sauce) and the drained diced tomatoes, stir and bring to a light boil; boil for 5-8 minutes then reduce heat to low.
- Add in uncooked meatballs to the sauce (if you are adding the meatballs uncooked do not stir for 30 minutes or you may run the risk of them falling apart in the simmering sauce).
- Simmer uncovered on low heat for about 3-5 hours (the longer you simmer uncovered the thicker and richer your sauce will be so don't be afraid to simmer even 6 hours!) adding more salt if desired.
- Skim off any fat that might gather on top of sauce.
- Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate (with the meatballs in the sauce) a minimum of 1 day or up to 4 days before using.
- Use as much as desired then freeze the rest for another meal, just reheat the sauce on top of the stove or heat in microwave (this will freeze well for up to 6 months).
- Note: if desired, you can bake the meatballs in the oven before adding to the sauce.
12/25/10 Update: Made this year in the crockpot after cooking onions on the stove. Topped sauce with meatballs and cooked on low for 12 hours. Fabulous. 12/25/09 Fantastic marinara sauce. I usually make Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta or Lasagna but wanted a veggie version for chick parm, so made this minus the meatball portion. Received rave reviews. I did not drain my second can of diced tomatoes, and very glad. It was a very thick sauce and I think if I had drained both cans would have been too thick, probably because of not doing the meatballs. Also omitted sugar and didn't miss it. It has made it to my best of 2009...just under the wire :)
I have to add my voice to the group! Kitt, this is the best sauce! I have made this a few times now, and just love it! I make this in my slow cooker so I don't have to babysit it too much - low for 4-6 hours. The last time I made this I was completely out of red wine. I used Mirin (Japanese cooking wine) and it worked perfectly for this. However a good red wine is still best for this. I will never buy store bought sauce again! If you are looking for a little lower fat option for the meat try *Kittencal's Low-Fat Parmesan Turkey Meatballs* Delicious! Thanks Kitt!
Too strongly tomato flavoured and acidic for me. I used it with Kittencal's Italian meatballs (fantastic recipe!) and found this sauce totally overpowered her delicious meatballs.