- 4 slices white bread, crusts trimmed
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3/4 cup dry red wine
- One (28-ounce) can tomato puree
- One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk, optional
Tear or cut bread into pieces and place in a small bowl along with milk. Set aside for 10 minutes, then stir with a fork, mashing bread to form a paste. Place ground chuck, sausage, Parmesan, white onion, 2 tablespoons garlic, parsley, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add bread-milk mixture and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Shape into large meatballs (about 1/2 cup each) and refrigerate briefly.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook until very well browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer browned meatballs to a large pot.
To oil remaining in the skillet, add onions and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, scraping any browned bits from the pan, until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups water, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Carefully transfer hot tomato sauce to the large pot containing meatballs. Place the large pot over medium-high heat and bring sauce to a gentle boil, undisturbed. Reduce heat so sauce just simmers, and cook until sauce is thick and meatballs are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally once the meatballs have firmed up and have begun floating. Stir in basil and oregano and season with salt to taste. If sauce seems too acidic, add evaporated milk and cook a few minutes longer. Serve meatballs and sauce ladled over cooked pasta of choice, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.