Derek’s “Famous” Sunday Sauce (w/ wine pairings)

My famous Sunday Sauce!

So for Christmas Dinner this year I decided to poll the kiddies and see what they wanted… After some debate and negotiation they came to the conclusion that they wanted my famous “Sunday Sauce”… Ok, so “famous” is most certainly an exaggeration (unless this post goes viral, lol), but it’s pretty darn popular in my family!

I know I’m biased, but I will say this… This is one of the meatiest, most flavorful, filling sauces you’ll ever come across in your life. I promise you that!

Serves: A large and very hungry family, with some left over.

4tbsp Olive Oil
7 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 Large White Onion, chopped
2 Celery Stalks, diced
2 Medium Carrots, diced
1c Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2c Fresh Basil, chopped

3lb Pork Neck Bones
1 1/2lb Beef Back Ribs or Short Ribs
1lb Sausage, raw and cut into chunks (Your preference of sausage, I used a parmesan herb rope sausage)
Meatballs (optional)

84oz Canned Diced Tomato
56oz Canned Ground Peeled Tomato
14oz Canned Tomato Paste
1 1/2c Dry Red Wine
14oz Water

6tsp Salt, (3) 2tsp portions
3tsp Ground Black Pepper, (1) 1tsp & (1) 2tsp portions
1tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flake
1tbsp Granulated Sugar
2tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Onion Powder

Ok, so there are a couple of things you’re going to need here… A big ass pot, and time. I recommend a 10qt sauce pot. I have an 8qt and the beginning stages of the sauce (before everything reduces down) is literally to the rim. As far as time goes, you’re looking at about 7 hours from start to finish, including the prep. I start my sauce around 10am so we can sit down and eat between 5-5:30pm.

Heat the olive oil on medium and add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots, along with 2tsp salt and 1tsp pepper. Cook until the vegetables start to sweat, about 5 minutes. Add the pork neck bones and beef back ribs (or short ribs if that’s what you chose) and season with another 2tsp of salt. Cook until the meat starts to brown, then add the wine, water, diced tomatoes, ground peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well to break up the paste and mix it into the liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly (stirring will be tricky will all the meat in there so do it carefully… you don’t want to splash yourself). Simmer for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to low and cook for 4 hours, stirring periodically. When you stir, occasionally scrape along the bottom of the pot to make sure that nothing is stuck there. You don’t want anything to burn…

Alright, so after 4 hours the meat should be pretty broken up and the sauce should have reduced an inch or two. Here is where we get into the tricky part, because now you have to sift through and get all the bones out, and get any remaining meat off that is still stuck to the bones. Use a pair of long tongs to stir through the sauce and find the bones. Use a fork or another pair of tongs to get off any meat still attached, then discard the bones. Make sure you’re thorough in sifting through the sauce.

Once all of the bones are out, add your remaining seasoning, the chopped parsley and basil, and the sausage. If you are adding meatballs put them in now as well. Check out the Ricotta Herb Meatballs that I used for my sauce, they are absolutely delicious! Cook on low for an additional 2 hours, stirring periodically.

Serve over your favorite pasta and top it with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Locatelli Pecorino Romano, grab some fresh baked bread or garlic bread, and mangia! Maybe bake up a batch of my Parmesan Egg Bread, that’s what we had on Christmas!

As far as wine pairings go, this dish is extremely versatile. Essentially if it’s Italian and from an authentic family owned small production winery, as compared to mass produced corporate swill, it’ll work! You can do something basic like a Primitivo, or get wild with some Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo, your call. Here are a few wines that are personal favorites of mine…

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico, Toscana, Italy – Castell’in Villa’s nearly 300 hectares of land (only 54 of which are under vine) are located in the prestigious hills of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the southern portion of the Chianti Classico DOCG. They are to Chianti Classico what Giacomo Conterno is to Barolo, Pingus is to Ribera del Duero, Petrus is to Bordeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is to Burgundy… the best of the best of the best. They were established in 1968 (first vintage was 1971) and their wines have proven to be the most classic, elegant, and age worthy bottlings ever to come from Chianti Classico. Their Chianti Classico is their basic offering, but there is nothing entry level about it. In the glass is a medium-to-full bodied wine of garnet hue with hints of rust along the edges. The bouquet is redolent with aromas of dried cherry, fresh mint, woodsmoke and damp earth. The palate predominantly mirrors the bouquet, along with additional hints of blackberry, cedar box, leather and crushed black pepper, with firm tannins giving grip and backbone that will soften over time, leading into a warm, lingering finish. Truly fit for royalty, which is apropos considering the owner is indeed a Princess. Approachable now, but this wine could easily stand another 10-20 years in the cellar. An absolute steal at this price. PP Score: 92+ (Retail $22-26)

Cascina delle Rose Dolcetto d’Alba A Elizabeth, Piemonte, Italy – Cascina delle Rose have a meager three hectares of vineyard in the Rio Sordo Valley in Barbaresco. They have been producing wines since 1948, however, they’ve only been bottling wines under their own label since 1992. They are very highly regarded for their Barbarescos, but what most people don’t realize is that they also make very small quantities of Barbera and Dolcetto as well. Their Dolcetto is beautifully fresh and vibrant, with bright cherry notes, dried herbs, churned loam and subtle leather. The wine is stainless aged, allowing the fruit to shine and giving it great lift. The only problem is availability. With only 330 cases made per vintage there isn’t much to go around, but if you can find it the price is reasonable enough that you can stock up. PP Score: 90 (Retail $15-18) *Practicing Organic

Valle dell’Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily, IT – Valle dell’Acate is one of most storied estates in Sicily, having been established by the Jocono family in the 19th century. They have 110 hectares of land, half of which is devoted to vineyard, the other half is a world class blood orange orchard… Probably not surprising that a number of their wines have subtle orange notes! Their Cerasuolo is a blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato. Nero’s tend to be big, dark, brooding uber masculine wines while Frappato is a very soft, bright and delicate varietal (think Gamay), so when you blend the two the end result is a medium bodied wine with surprising depth and complexity. You’ll find notes of both black cherry as well as a hint of maraschino, blueberry, orange zest, black pepper and subtle oak, along with refreshing acidity in the opening and mid palate, and firm tannins in the long lingering finish. This wine is truly gorgeous. It can be consumed now, or laid down and for up to five years. PP Score: 91 (Retail $20-25)

So there you have it. My “famous” Sunday Sauce and a few wines that I would recommend. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and will try the sauce and vino! As always, new content is in the works… In the meantime crack open a bottle of authentic small production Italian wine, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

Buon Appetito!


Published by Derek Martin

Husband, dad, home cook, wine snob... lover of bacon. I have spent my entire adult life surrounded by fine food and fine wines, starting with fifteen years working at, or running, some of New Jersey's top restaurants, and now the last two years working for one of the top fine wine distributors in the United States. I have absorbed a ton of information on food, wine, pairings and techniques during those seventeen years, and I'd love to share what I've learned with you!

5 thoughts on “Derek’s “Famous” Sunday Sauce (w/ wine pairings)

    1. Haha yeah, stir carefully! It’s more manageable once the sauce reduces down a bit and you take the bones out… then you get some breathing room. lol

      Let me know how it comes out!


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