Sunday Sauce with Meatballs, Ribs & Italian Sausage

Sauces & Stuff

Sunday Sauce with Meatballs, Ribs & Italian Sausage

Sundays are when most of us get to relax, so a long simmering sauce is the perfect way to sneak some time in with the family.

Start with something the Italians aptly call Sunday sauce or gravy. This tomato-based sauce develops intense flavor because it simmers for hours with a variety of meats. Any cut of meat that requires long, slow cooking will work here. Originally, pork was the only meat available, but once meat became plentiful, beef, sausage, meatballs, and even braciola were added also.

Serve the sauce over spaghetti with the meats on a platter of their own, family-style. And come hungry to dinner — there’s plenty!


16 servings

Total Time

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Test Kitchen Tip

This sauce is the perfect recipe to make ahead because it actually tastes better the longer it sits.


For the sauce, mince onion, carrots, and garlic cloves in a food processor; set aside.

Sear ribs in oil in a 7¼ qt. Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until browned on both sides, 710 minutes; transfer to a platter.

Add onion mixture, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and pepper flakes to the Dutch oven, season with salt and black pepper, and cook until the onion softens, about 3 minutes.

Deglaze Dutch oven with ¼ cup wine, scraping up any browned bits; cook until nearly evaporated, 2 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato purée, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring sauce to a boil, add ribs, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3 hours.

For the meatballs, whisk together bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, milk, eggs, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Gently combine with ground chuck and pork. Divide and shape meat mixture into about ten 3-oz. meatballs; cover and chill until ready to cook.

Sear sausages in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned on both sides, 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Sear meatballs in drippings in same skillet until browned, 5 minutes; transfer to plate with sausages.

Deglaze skillet with remaining ¼ cup wine, scraping up any browned bits and cooking until nearly evaporated. Add sausages, meatballs, and reduced wine to the Dutch oven.

Simmer sauce until rib meat is falling off the bones and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the sausages and meatballs registers 165°, about 1 hour more.


When minced the small particles of onion, carrot, and garlic really break down and melt right into the sauce.


Remove the thin membrane found on the underside of ribs. It becomes tough when cooked.


A Parmesan rind adds tons of flavor, but since it doesn’t melt, it should be removed before serving.

Nutritional Facts

Nutritional Facts

Per serving

Calories: 533

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 38g 58%

Saturated Fat 15g 75%

Cholesterol 126mg 42%

Sodium 763mg 31%

Carbs 16g 5%

Fiber 3g 12%

Protein 29g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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