Chef John's Sunday Pasta Sauce Recipe -
Chef John's Sunday Pasta Sauce Recipe
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  • READY IN ABOUT 5 hrs

Chef John's Sunday Pasta Sauce

Recipe by  

"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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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 10 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    30 mins
  • COOK

    4 hrs 20 mins

    4 hrs 50 mins


  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.
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  • 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.

Reviews More Reviews

Apr 11, 2014

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., 1 rib celery, 2 tea sugar, 1 tea anchovy paste, 1 tea white wine vinegar and 1/2 tea dried Italian herbs. It is so heavenly and old fashion tasting it almost brings tears to my eyes.

May 04, 2014

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 bit more, and served it with garlic bread and fresh local pasta. Really a treat. I really want to suggest not pureeing the tomatoes or using tomato sauce - using your hands to break up the San Marzano's like instructed provides some great texture. A+, 5/5!

Apr 16, 2014

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 cook on a cookie sheet in the oven We also add a little vino. Red or white works . We eat it that day and freeze the leftovers in single meal containers or freezer bags .

Nov 01, 2014

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

Nov 02, 2014

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. From my memories, this is awesome. When Grandma made polenta, the sauce she used was like this only she used Italian sausage simmered in the sauce - it was outstanding. Thanks, Chef John, for the walk down memory lane and for a keeper.


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  • Calories
  • 339 kcal
  • 17%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 20.3 g
  • 7%
  • Cholesterol
  • 71 mg
  • 24%
  • Fat
  • 19.6 g
  • 30%
  • Fiber
  • 5.1 g
  • 20%
  • Protein
  • 23.2 g
  • 46%
  • Sodium
  • 916 mg
  • 37%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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