Sunday sauce can warm winter’s heart

Made with slow-cooked pork shoulder, sausage and meatballs, this rich Sunday sauce can be served on any kind of pasta. / Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

This hearty, stick- to-your-ribs pasta sauce is among my eldest son Dan's favorite dishes to make when he's stuck all day indoors and double-tasked with feeding a hungry crowd.

Danny's Sunday Sauce

Dan uses a meatloaf mix of ground pork, veal and beef for the meatballs.

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for pan

1 1/2 -2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 pound beef meatballs, premade or homemade

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, with or without basil, crushed

1 cup tomato puree or sauce

2 generous tablespoons hot cherry pepper hoagie spread, such as Cento

1 cup dry white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup or more to thin sauce

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Cooked pasta, for serving

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper, then add to pan. Sear pork until brown on both sides, then remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion, celery and carrots to hot oil, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent and carrots and celery are tender. Add garlic, and cook for another minute or so, being careful not to burn. Stir in sandwich spread.

Deglaze pan by adding white wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of pan, then reduce heat and cook until wine is almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add tomato puree or sauce, and stir to combine. Stir in crushed tomatoes and cooked pork. Rinse cans with about 1 cup of water, and add to pan.

Simmer sauce, slightly covered, over low heat for 2 1/2 hours, then add Italian sausage. Stir to make sure meat is submerged, then continue cooking for another 60 minutes.

In separate pan, sear meatballs in a little bit of olive oil. Add meatballs to saucepan, and gently stir to combine. Continue simmering the sauce for another hour or so or until sauce reduces to desired consistency and pork easily shreds with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, add cooked pasta to a large bowl, and spoon sauce over top, along with a little hot pasta water and a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil. Toss to combine, then serve in warmed bowls, with grated Parmesan.

Makes enough sauce for 10-12 servings.

-- Dan McKay