This past week I made the long drive up to Maryland and surprised my Mom for her 60th birthday. It was really exciting to have the whole family in on it and totally catch her off guard! She totally burst into tears when she opened the door and unexpectedly found me and one excited puppy. I just love a good surprise!
During my visit I made sure to incorporate my favorite hometown classics into each meal. I enjoyed Maryland crab soup, crab cakes, crab stuffed rockfish and my favorite, classic steamed Maryland crabs. But despite all the different crab dishes, the one that stuck out the most my Mom's Simmered Italian Sausage and Meatballs. Soooo good!!! Her sauce is kept light with the addition of crushed tomatoes and seasoned by the rich flavor of the Italian sausage. The homemade meatballs are inspired from a favorite meatloaf recipe which uses a combination of ground beef and ground pork... delicious.
My Mom has been making versions of this meal for as long as I can remember. As a kid she would start preparing this on an early Sunday morning and by the afternoon we would all be digging in. This meal is perfect for when you want to stay in your pajamas past an acceptable hour, where a formal dinner is out of the question, and when multiple mini meals are savored throughout the day. Enjoy!
Note: A lot of people may not have time/attention span to commit to making a pot of sauce from scratch. A perfectly acceptable and easy alternative is to use a good quality pasta sauce and add the various ingredients below like we did last Sunday.
For the sauce:
1 lb mild Italian sausage, halved
3 24 oz jars DeCecco pasta sauce (or your favorite high quality marinara)
1 28 oz can of Roma style crushed tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the meatballs:
Makes about 30 2" meatballs
1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup of sauce (from this recipe)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesean
2 eggs lightly beaten
A couple of fresh basil leaves for garnish
For the sauce: Saute onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the crushed tomatoes and 3 cans of marinara sauce. Heat on medium-low heat till you get a slight simmer. While simmering, add the uncooked Italian sausage into the sauce.
For the meatballs: Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form meat into 2" balls. Bake for 10 minutes until the outside is browned.
To put it all together, add the meatballs into sauce and let simmer on low for at least one hour, but up to three hours. Serve alone with crusty Italian bread, or over al dente penne pasta... or both!
Lastly thanks to my Mom for spending some time in the kitchen with me and passing down this yummy Italian recipe....... it doesn't get better than this!
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