Sunday sauce is an essential Italian staple. It's cooked long and slow, resulting in a robust flavor and thick texture. I serve it over spaghetti or bucatini pasta with homemade meatballs. NOTE: This recipe requires a minimum of 5 hours including prep time and up to 10. It's best to start first thing in the morning.
Crush the tomatoes. Set a bowl in the sink. Remove the whole tomatoes from the cans and crush gently by hand into the bowl.
Heat a dutch oven or large pot (minimum 6-quart) over medium heat; add the butter and heat until it melts then foams. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cover and sweat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and work into the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more.
Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and continue to cook until the wine stops bubbling, 2-3 minutes.
Add the hand-crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, dried herbs, red pepper and cinnamon stick. Mix well to combine. If you are using a heat diffuser, place it under the pot now.
Increase the heat to medium high to bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce to low to maintain a slow, steady simmer with large bubbles. Simmer at least 6 hours and up to 8, until the sauce is deep burgundy and the tomatoes are falling apart. Stir occasionally, at least once per hour, and gently crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you stir. The finished sauce will be thick and have a muddy consistency.
For the Meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, eggs, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands until all ingredients are very well incorporated and the meat no longer looks marbled.
Fold in the breadcrumbs a quarter cup at a time. You may need slightly more or less depending on the wetness of the mixture and your preferred consistency. I add enough breadcrumbs so that the mixture is moist, but not wet, and holds a ball-shape well.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add two tbsp olive oil and heat until shimmering.
Pinch off a heaping tablespoon and roll into a ball with your hands; then roll the meatball in the flour and gently shake off any extra flour. This recipe makes about 3 dozen meatballs.
Brown the meatballs in the hot oil, 8-10 at a time. Shake the pan to ensure they retain their shape and that all sides are evenly browned. Add the browned batch of meatballs to the sauce and repeat until all meatballs are browned, adding more oil, a tablespoon at a time, as needed.
Simmer the meatballs in the sauce until cooked through, about 40 minutes.
For the Sausage
Wipe out the skillet, then reheat over medium high. Add the whole sausage links to the skillet. Brown for 5 minutes, then turn the sausages and brown on the other side for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the sausages using tongs and rest until cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes). Slice into thirds, then add to the pot and simmer with the meatballs until cooked through.
For the Pasta
While the meatballs and sausage are simmering, bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Once boiling, add at least 2 tbsp kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.
Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and ladle 2 cups sauce into the pot; gently toss until the noodles are evenly coated; the coating will be thin.
Portion pasta into bowls, then top with meatballs, sausage, and additional sauce. Garnish with fresh basil and cheese (if desired) and serve immediately.