"Sunday Sauce" - Ragu Napolitano with Italian Sausage and Pasta
For many Southern Italian families the world over, Sunday is not Sunday without this sauce. Everyone has one they call their own.You can use beef, pork, lamb or chicken. It’s often made with Braciole (stuffed beef roll) or meatballs combined with sausages. What they all have in common is that meat is slowly braised in the tomato sauce until it’s fork tender and the sauce is rich with the meat juices. The result is usually stunning. This is the way we like to do it. Treat your family and friends to this classic. Enjoy!
Pre-heat oven to 225°. In a large 13 quart pot (cast iron, such as Le Creuset or similar), heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Salt & pepper ribs on all sides and cook until brown on all sides, set aside. Then brown the sausages on both sides. No need to cook through, the sausages will finish cooking in the sauce. Do this in batches, so you don’t crowd the pot. Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pot, add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until onion is soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Cook until the wine evaporates by half, one minute or two. Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, 3 leaves of torn basil, salt and pepper to taste.
Return only the ribs to the pot. Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with lid and place in oven for 1 hour. While the ribs are slow roasting, cover the browned sausages and refrigerate. After 1 hour, add the sausages to the pot and cook with the lid off for the last 2 hours.
Bring 5 qts. of water to a boil. Add 2 Tbsp. salt to boiling water, add the Rigatoni and cook until al dente – about 12-14 minutes, or according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is boiling, remove the meat from the sauce, and place on a large serving platter, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven on very low heat. The sauce should be reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon. If needed, reduce further on medium heat on top of the stove, until thickened. Reserve about 2 cups of sauce for the meat and keep warm.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss the pasta in the sauce to ensure each piece is coated. Add the torn basil and a drizzle of good olive oil off the heat, mix well. Serve immediately with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Top the meat with the reserved warm sauce and serve after the pasta course or together if you choose.
The sauce can be made ahead a day or two, just reheated and serve with freshly boiled pasta.