Grandma's Old Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs Recipe -
  • READY IN 8 hr

Grandma's Old Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

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"Grandma's sauce is an old recipe that she brought over from Italy. It is a long process with strange ingredients, but they all come together to make the best sauce I have ever had. The long process is worth your trouble the minute you take your first bite."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 24 meatballs with sauce Change Servings
  • PREP

    1 hr 30 mins
  • COOK

    6 hrs 30 mins

    8 hrs


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of a large saucepan, and fry the garlic cloves 5 to 8 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Remove the garlic cloves and set aside. Place the pig's feet and pork neck bones in the saucepan and fry, turning occasionally, until the meat and bones have browned, about 15 minutes.
  2. Return the garlic cloves to the saucepan, and stir in the tomato paste and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and pour in the tomato puree. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 3 hours, stirring from the bottom often to prevent burning, until the pig's feet are tender and the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in the sugar, pepper, and baking soda. Continue to simmer while you prepare the meatballs.
  3. Soak the torn bread with 1 cup of water in a bowl. Squeeze excess water out of the bread, and place the bread in a large bowl with the 6 beaten eggs, ground pork, ground veal, and ground beef. Mix thoroughly and form into 24 meatballs about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stir in the minced garlic and chopped fresh basil, let them cook for about 1 minute, and then add the meatballs. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and fry them on all sides until brown, about 15 minutes, working in batches, if necessary.
  5. Place the browned meatballs, along with the oil, garlic, and basil from the skillet into the sauce, stirring lightly to avoid breaking them. Add the whole hard-boiled eggs, and simmer for about 1 1/2 more hours, until the meatballs are cooked, the sauce is thick, and all the flavors have blended.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Mar 31, 2009

The recipe was absolutely delicious. It was long process. I did everything in the morning then let it cook all day. For a real italian recipe this nailed it. I did make a few minor changes based on what I already had in my kitchen. Everyone in my family was very pleased.

Most Helpful Critical Review
May 18, 2012

I grew up in Little Italy in Boston. I knew better than to try another gravy recipe other than mine, but I thought I would try something new. I added chicken broth instead of water and doubled it because the water amount didnt seen enough. Sorry...The only flavor is from a few cloves of garlic and pork. I really had to doctor it up and its still bland. I have been making gravy for 35 years and consider myself a very experienced cook. I knew this recipe looked bland but I figured what the heck. Should have listened to my instincts.

May 18, 2012

Way way too bland and not enough water or broth . I agree woith the other cook I am Italian, my Grandparents came from Italy I use pork neckbones or pork ribs or rib ends and lots of herbs & spices like oregano, basil, thyme,a couple of bay leaves a good pinch of red pepper flakes (NOT cayenne pepper) I always sweeten my gravy with a good pinch of sugar sometimes I add a little fennel seed or anise seed and always use good quality plum or Italian style tomatoes

Jan 21, 2010

This is the best recipe for spaghetti sauce that I have found.. Excellent! What a flavor the pigs feet and pork neck bones give the sauce. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Apr 05, 2011

Like all cooks we use recipes as a base. I added a couple of spices to the sauce and deleted the pigs feet. I did use the pork neck bones. I did not leave to whole bones in the sauce. I pulled off the meat added the meat back to the sauce and gave the bones to the dogs. For the meatballs instead of the bread soaked in water I used dry bread crumbs. I cooked it a day ahead of time so the flavors would have time meld together. I also could not find ground veal at the store so instead I used more pork (really italian saugage) for more added flavor and ground hamburger to make up for the pound of veal that i did not have. I was serving 10 people and use one pound of thin spaghetti. I had plenty of sauce and meatballs left over to freeze and kept some meatballs and sauce to make sub sandwiches with. My overall rating is I think it turned out nicely with my own cooking techinques and touch. I served with a salad and buttered bread.

Oct 26, 2009

only made the meatballs and used jarred sauce to finish cooking them in. pretty good, make sure to squeeze as much water out of the bread as possible. I had to be very careful to keep the meatballs from falling apart.

Feb 14, 2013

I don't do the pigs feet but I do roast & freeze neck bones so I can have them on hand when I want to make sauce. If you are worried about little pieces of bone in your sauce tie them up in a piece of cheese cloth & discard when sauce is done. The roasted bones do add sooo much more to the flavor of the sauce. I also add a little [1/2 teaspoon sugar]] sugar to cut the acidity of the tomato sauce. We call this our sunday gravy.


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  • Calories
  • 599 kcal
  • 30%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 38 g
  • 12%
  • Cholesterol
  • 319 mg
  • 106%
  • Fat
  • 29.4 g
  • 45%
  • Fiber
  • 4.7 g
  • 19%
  • Protein
  • 46.2 g
  • 92%
  • Sodium
  • 1437 mg
  • 57%

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

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