Flip's Meat Sauce with Pasta

This recipe comes from chef Ron "Flip" Fillippini, he claims that you can work these meatballs all you want when mixing the ingredients together; they won't toughen up, but should remain smooth throughout.

Flip's Meat Sauce with Pasta
You can't beat homemade meatballs and spicy marinara to top your favorite pasta.
Yield: serves 4-6

For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup fine dry Italian-flavored bread crumbs
  • 14 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 14 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • Pinch dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Sauce and Pasta

  • 8 links hot Italian sausage, pierced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 (28-oz.) cans crushed Italian plum tomatoes, preferably Tuttorosso brand
  • 1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. dried rigatoni or other tube-shaped pasta

Instructions

  1. For the meatballs: Mix meat, bread crumbs, cheeses, eggs, oregano, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Gently shape mixture into 12 1 3⁄4" meatballs, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  2. For the sauce: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add sausages and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Put oil and onions into a large wide heavy pot and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are soft, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook briefly, then stir in crushed and diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Submerge meatballs and sausages in sauce in pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Partially uncover pot and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is deep red and has thickened, about 1 hour more. Transfer 2 of the sausages and 2 of the meatballs to a medium bowl and mash them up with a fork. Return meat to pot and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings.
  4. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 8–12 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add half the sauce to the pasta, toss well, and divide among four to six plates. Put sausages and meatballs into one dish and the remaining sauce into another to be passed around the table. Garnish pasta and meat sauce with additional grated cheeses, if you like.