lb meatballs (use your favorite recipe) (optional)
(If you choose purely beef for the primary meat, the sausage OR meatballs is good. If you choose chicken, use a good chicken sausage to not throw the meats into conflict. If you use ground pork, I don't recommend using any other meats).
Take diced onions, garlic and peppers and sauté in the olive oil. I usually take a pinch or two of the salt and throw it in here as well.
Once all the onions are translucent, scoop all the veggies out and put in a bowl on the side. In the same pan with no additional oil, sauté the meats you chose. Brown until almost all the red is gone, but leave just a little bit as this will cause the meat to release a bit more fat into the sauce.
Drain the meat. I actually put the meat in a metal strainer and lightly rinse under cold water in the sink to get rid of most of the fat (which is why you leave just a bit red).
Once done, combine all the ingredients cooked so far back in a large sauce pot.
Add all the cans of tomato products and then using one of the 4 oz. cans of paste, fill with water twice and put into the pot with everything else. Mix all ingredients in the pot well, blending the water into the tomato paste and puree.
Begin with high heat to get the entire mixture bubbling. (Use a screen strainer over the top of the pot to prevent it from splattering your stove or you).
Once bubbling turn the heat down to a low medium flame. I recommend a heat displacer if you have one to prevent burning the sauce.
Once simmering, put all the spices on top of the sauce, spreading around the top and stick the bay leaves into the sauce.
Let it sit on top for a while, some of the meat oils will surface on the sauce and mix with the spices. Once this happens, blend all the spices into the sauce with a wooden spoon (to be like Pa) --.
Stirring frequently, cook for about 3 hours.
This sauce will actually taste best 24 to 36 hours later, so if you can, plan ahead.
Serve over spaghetti, ravioli or use as your sauce in lasagna.