1 to 2 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage links (I try to find a brand with the fewest and most recognizable ingredients, i.e. no preservatives.)
3 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes, dump them into a bowl in the sink and crush with your hands.
2 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
3 bay leaves, dried or fresh
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into a fine chiffonade
Salt and pepper
1 pinch sugar
Spaghetti, or whatever pasta shape you’d like with this sauce, for serving
Once the meatballs are done, in the same pan, lightly brown the sausages on all sides and set aside.
Make the tomato sauce: Lower heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Once the onions start to become translucent, add 1 cup of dry white wine to deglaze (Mom would use red). At this point, remove the garlic cloves or leave them in, minced, if no one objects.
Nudge the onions and garlic to the side and add the tomato paste. Sauté it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes to caramelize it slightly until it deepens in color and flavor. Add the tomatoes. Stir to make certain nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaves, oregano, basil, pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper. Gently, add back in the cooked meatballs and sausages.
Bring to a boil, stir gently to make sure no meat is sticking to the bottom, and set to the lowest possible simmer. Leave it bubbling, occasionally giving it a gentle stir, for 2 to 3 or even 4 hours (longer is better).
You need to pull the pasta before it is fully cooked. It will continue cooking and will absorb the sauce later. Put the pasta back in the pot. Add two or three ladles of the cooked tomato sauce and gently stir. You want all of the pasta to be coated, but not swimming in sauce.
Serve each portion with extra sauce (but not too much) on top with a meatball or two and sausage. Pass extra grated Parmesan or Romano cheese at the table.