Italian-American Gravy with Meatballs

Susan from Food Blogga

Gravy:

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 sweet Italian sausage links
3 (28-ounce) cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 large onion
2 whole garlic cloves
3/4 cup red wine
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt, to taste
7-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Meatballs:

1 pound of ground beef (I used lean)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup canola oil

1 pound of pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Gravy:
In a large heavy pot over medium-low heat, warm 1 Tbsp olive oil and add sausages. Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until browned all over; remove from heat.

Pour the San Marzano tomatoes in a large bowl, and crush them with your hands (or use a food mill if you prefer).

Heat the second Tbsp of olive oil in the same deep pot; add garlic cloves and saute for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and discard garlic. Pour in the tomatoes (with their juice), red wine, crushed red pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meatballs:
Find your mother or daughter or other suitable companion, then...
Place the meat in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. In a small bowl, beat the egg with some salt and pepper; add to the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with your hands until the consistency is moist and the meat holds together well. If it’s too dry, add some water or another beaten egg. If it's too moist, add more breadcrumbs. Once the consistency is right, using your hands, roll the meatballs into 1 ½ inch balls. It should make about 22-24 meatballs.

Mix the olive and canola oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Fit as many meatballs in the skillet as you can without overcrowding so you have room to turn them. Cook about 2-3 minutes until browned, then turn over and cook another 2-3 minutes, until all sides are evenly browned. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Repeat as necessary.

The meatballs can also be baked if you prefer not to fry them. To bake them, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place meatballs on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up) and cook for 20 minutes, or until browned.

Add the cooked meatballs and sausage to the gravy after it has simmered for about an hour. Simmer for an additional 60 minutes (or up to several hours if you want to be authentic). If the gravy becomes too thick, simply add small amounts of water or water mixed with a bit more red wine.

In the meantime, cook pasta in salted water according to the directions until al dente. Once cooked, add the gravy, top with meatballs and sliced sausages, and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil.