Mama’s Marinara Sauce and Meatballs

Total Time
3hrs
Prep 1 hr
Cook 2 hrs

In culinary school, Rocco DiSpirito learned the term Mother Sauce, which refers to a sauce that is the base for other sauces. When he opened Rocco’s and was developing the recipes for it, he and his cooks joked that marinara was “Mama Saucer” because it is an ingredient in many other dishes, and of course it’s the mother of all sauces. It is also excellent on its own, especially with fresh pasta, which is more porous than dried pasta and therefore grabs the sauce and thickens it. I encourage you to make this in large quantities and keep it on hand in glass or plastic containers. It will keep in your refrigerator for weeks or your freezer for months. His mama is known better for these meatballs than she ever could have imagined. In Italy, meatballs, or polpette, are usually a lot smaller and, weird as it may seem, never eaten with pasta. They are served alone or in soup. In the United States, they became a lot bigger and are eaten alone, on heros, with spaghetti, and even on pizza. There are a lot of meatballs out there, folks, and I’m sure you have tasted your fair share, but I believe these are the best meatballs in the world. I can’t, to this day, pinpoint what it is that makes them so phenomenal; I think it is largely the fact that you mix and roll them by hand. They are not dense like many meatballs, but they also don’t fall apart in tomato sauce. It’s not just my bias speaking here; everyone loves them. People who hate pork love them; people who never go near veal can’t get enough. Vegetarians make exceptions for them. I encourage you to make these meatballs your own. Your kids will love something you make by hand, too.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. MAMA'S MARINARA SAUCE.
  2. Cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a sauce pot over a medium-low flame, about 10 minutes or until garlic is tender and onions translucent, not brown (this is called “sweating” because it will draw out a lot of moisture and flavor).
  3. Add all the tomato products. Pour the chicken stock into one of the 28-ounce cans. Fill it the rest of the way with water and add that and the sugar to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with red pepper flakes and salt, and cover. Simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly thin but not watery and very smooth. Uncover and simmer for 3 minutes. If it is too thin for your taste, add a little water if it seems thick.
  4. MAMA'S MEATBALLS.
  5. Place the chicken stock, onion, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and purée.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the puréed stock mix, meat, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and salt. Combine with both hands until the mixture is distributed evenly. Do not overmix.
  7. Put a little olive oil on your hands and form the mixture into balls a little larger than golf balls. They should be about ¼ cup each, though if you prefer bigger or smaller, it will only affect the browning time.
  8. Pour about ½ inch of olive oil into a straight-sided, 10-inch-wide sauté pan and heat over a medium-high flame. Add the meatballs to the pan (working in batches, if necessary) and brown the meatballs well on all sides. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. While the meatballs are browning, heat the marinara sauce in a stockpot over medium heat. Lift the meatballs out of the sauté pan with a slotted spoon and put them in the marinara sauce. Stir gently. Simmer for one hour.
  10. Serve with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top.