Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Meatballs


This is an excellent mother sauce (and it just happens to be my husband’s mother’s recipe, go figure).  A mother sauce is one sauce that you can use in multiple recipes, such as baked ziti, chicken parmigan, meatball sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, baked shells and manicotti (have I forgotten any here?)  That’s why it is worth spending several hours on making this delicious sauce.    

Now I wish I could write and tell you all about my husband’s amazing mom, but I would just go on and on.  I will tell you that I hit the jackpot when I married my husband (other than for obvious reasons).  He has the most amazing family.  His mom used to be a chef at a small Italian restaurant in Syracuse, New York.  I just wish that I would have payed more attention to her recipes when she used to come and visit and cook for us.   This recipe is an extension of her.  Now believe it or not I don’t use as much fat ond oil in my sauce as she does in hers, but I use enough to give it a beefy and hearty taste.  So here is the sauce I make on a regular basis.  It makes a lot, but that’s what you want.  It freezes so well and it is such an easy meal to take out of the freezer when your brain just can’t think of anything else to make for dinner.  As my husband would say, Manga!


You’re going to need a really big stock pot for the sauce.

Here are the ingredients for the sauce.  A good quality pepperoni is key to layering a nice zippy flavor into the sauce.  Let’s get started with making the red sauce.

I use a 14 quart stock pot for my sauce.  The sauce doesn’t come to the brim of the pot, but gives the sauce enough room to become violently bubbly in the pot without burning the cook.  Now place all the puree, tomato sauce, sprig of parsley, bay leaves, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and lawrys salt into the pot.  Stir well.

In a 12″ skillet take one link of the sweet Italian sausage and one link of the hot italian sausage and add the chopped onion and garlic.  With the back of a wooden spoon or large spatula crumble the sausage as finely as you can.  The onions will become wilted.  This will take about 10 minutes or so.  Pour everything into the pot of tomato sauce, fat and all.  Now add the chopped up pepperoni.

In the same skillet brown the rest of the links of Italian sausage.  Once browned put in the pot of sauce, you got it, fat and all.  Put the heat on low and bring to a simmer.  Stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn.  Now let’s get started on the meatballs.

Here are the ingredients for the meatballs.  These are so amazing….mmmm. 

Use day old French or Italian bread.  Take off the really tough parts of the crust.  Give it a good whirl in the food processor.

In a really large bowl add all of your ingredients.  I don’t like the feel of this on my bare little hands, so I use those surgical gloves you can buy at Costco.  Smelling like meat is kind of weird.

Once the mixture has been combined use a medium sized scoop for the meatballs.  This way you will have each meatball the same size, and no one will feel left out.

Arrange all the meatballs on a large baking sheet that has been lined with foil (just for the sake of easier clean up) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Bake your meatballs for 15 minutes.

Then turn each one over and bake an additional 5.  Now turn on your broiler and broil each side for about 5 minutes.

Look at that beautiful caramelization on those meatballs.  Now place each one into the pot of sauce.  Believe it or not I don’t use the fat from the meatballs.  Allow everything to simmer for about an hour longer.  Be sure to stir about every five minutes or so.  Once the sauce is done simmering, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Think about how you will use the sauce when placing it in containers for the freezer.  I try to think about how many meatballs and sauce we will need for when we just have pasta and sauce, or if you are going to do a lasagna, etc.  Make sure that you label each container so you can remember what you are going to do with the sauce in each container.

Spaghetti sauce

1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casing removed)
1 pound hot Italian sausage (casing removed)
1 link of good quality pepperoni, chopped in small dice
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large sprig of parsley (not chopped, you’ll want to remove this after it has simmered)
2 bay leaves (removed before serving)
3 11-ounce can of tomato puree
5 29-ounce cans of tomato sauce (if I can find the tomato sauce that has been flavored with basil and garlic I buy that…I usually cannot find it in the large cans)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Lawry salt

In a really large stock pot pour in all of your tomato sauce and tomato puree.  Add the oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, lawry salt, bay leaves, and sprig of parsley.  Give it a good stir.  Place pot over a medium heat burner.  In a 12″ skillet place one link of the sweet sausage, one link of the hot sausage, chopped onion and chopped garlic.  Using a large spatula crumble the sausage and allow it to brown.  As the sausage browns the onions and garlic will become nice and soft.  Do not pour off the fat from the sausage.  Add this to your pot of tomato sauce mixture.  Stir well.  Add the chopped pepperoni.  In the same 12″ skillet, add the remaining sausage links.  Cut the hot sausage into thirds and the sweet sausage in half.  Fry until nice and browned.  Once the sausage has browned, stir links (and fat)  into the tomato sauce mixture.  Stir well.  Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer.   Be sure to stir often so bottom does not burn.  While sauce is simmering, start your meatballs.

Italian Meatballs

2 pounds of hamburger
1 pound Hot Italian Sausage (buy this in bulk, not in link form)
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage (buy this in bulk, not in link form)
6 or 7 eggs
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 cups finely ground day old French or Italian Bread, without crust
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Lawry salt
1 teaspoon fine black pepper

In a large bowl add all your ingredients together.  If the mixture is too dry, add one extra egg.  If the mixture is too wet, add a few more bread crumbs.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Form your meatballs using the medium-sized scooper.  Once all the meatballs have been formed and placed on baking sheet bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Turn each meatball and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Place the meatballs under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side.  Once the meatballs are done, put them in the tomato sauce.  Makes about 50-60 meatballs.



  1. Lynne Pautsch says:

    This was a delicious, flavorful meal. Served it with some whole grain spaghetti, a green salad with yellow bell peppers and crispy garlic bread. It took a bit longer than I anticipated, but my family and a friend of my son’s said it was worth the wait! Everyone had seconds! My daughter typically doesn’t like meatballs and she loved these! Great recipe, enough to serve 5 tonight, will serve at least 4 tomorrow and will have some to freeze for later.

  2. Best sauce I’ve ever tried. I use it for everything now.. thanks

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