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Chef John's Sunday Pasta Sauce

Rated as 4.77 out of 5 Stars

"This sauce goes by many names, including Sunday sauce, since that's the day it's traditionally made, but for me growing up, this was just called 'sauce.' As long as you cook the meat long enough, and season thoughtfully, there's really no way this sauce isn't going to be great. So, while you may not have grown up in an Italian-American home, with this comforting sauce simmering on the stove every Sunday, your family still can. Serve the sauce over pasta and top with the tender meat."
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4 h 50 m servings 339
Original recipe yields 10 servings


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  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place beef, pork, and chicken in pan and turn to coat with olive oil.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven until meat is well browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir onion with a pinch of salt in hot oil until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups water, and tomato paste into onion mixture. Add roasted beef, pork, and chicken to tomato sauce mixture.
  6. Pour remaining 1/2 cup water into the roasting pan, and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Pour roasting pan water mixture into tomato mixture. Stir Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Italian parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes into tomato sauce; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until sauce reduces and meat is tender, about 4 hours. Transfer meat to a dish. Adjust sauce seasonings to taste.


  • Cook's Note:
  • Any canned tomato product will work. If using whole canned tomatoes, pour them into a large bowl and crush them with your hands.
  • Nutrition:
  • The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the beef, pork, and chicken. The actual amount of meat consumed will vary.
  • Partner Tip
  • Reynolds® Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 339 calories; 19.6 20.3 23.2 71 916 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 36
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I have it simmering on my stove now, and it is the best sauce I've ever made and I'm an old Italian fuss. I added the ingredients Chef John puts in his Tomato Sauce recipe also on this site, i.e...

So this is how my mother in law taught me to make sauce. We brown the meat bones in the pot we cook the sauce in rather than in the oven. The brown bits are already there. The meatballs we do c...

Made as directed, as usual when Chef John is the one cooking. Simmered for 4 hours, removed meat (which was tender / falling off of the bone), simmered for another hour to let the sauce reduce a...

the best part is no sugar in it i dont know why people insist on adding it it aint desert

Have been making this for years and I use a pot roast which I slice in thirds if it is a round type but if I can find it, I use a chuck blade roast as it is already flat. I also use pork chops o...

JUST like my grandmother used to make -- (except she fried her paste with the onions until it turned a rich brown - AND she added a few leaves of basil - you've GOT to add the basil) :-) Than...

This looks just like the sauce my grandmother and aunts used to make. I've gotten away from putting meat in my sauce and really hate ground meat in sauce. Think I'll go back to this method. F...

Very good sauce! Reminded me of the sauce my Northern Italian grandmother and my mother made with deep, rich flavors. I used whatever meat I had on hand, which included pork chops and a small ...

This is exactly how my husband's grandfather (from Italy) made his sauce (which they called "gravy"!)....he used a beef roast browned in the oven and added to the tomatoes, then simmered. The me...