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Recipes: Sunday sauce, bison meatballs

Here's how Nina Barone, the News' November Cook of the Month, makes her long-simmered tomato sauce and meatballs for family gatherings. Interestingly, she prefers bison for the meatballs, providing a softer texture in the finished dish.

Nina Barone's Sauce

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (no seasoning)
18 ounces tomato paste
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion (1/2 cup), finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced (1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon raw sugar
1 large bay leaf, whole
4 whole basil leaves

1. In an 8-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over low heat until fragrant. Add onion and garlic. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until onion becomes translucent and start sizzling. Stir.
2. Add crushed tomatoes and paste and raise heat to medium. Add 8 cups of water and stir to combine.
3. Add salt. Stir. Add sugar and stir. Add one large bay leaf and basil leaves.
4. Allow to cook on stovetop over medium heat until a low boil (slow bubbling) - cook for about 15 minutes and then turn down to simmer. Cook for 4 hours.

Meatballs

1 pound ground bison, or beef

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup cubed, day old Italian ciabatta bread (must be a little dry and hard)
1/8 cup skim or 1% milk
1 cup toasted Italian breadcrumbs without seasoning
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
2 eggs, whisked
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
A dash of ground pepper

1. Toss bread in milk to moisten. Let's sit for a minute to absorb. Mix in onion and garlic.
2. Add breadcrumbs. Add Romano cheese. Stir to combine.
3. Add eggs and parsley and salt and pepper.
4. In a large bowl, use hands to combine all ingredients. Do not over mix or meat will become tough. If too moist, add another tablespoon of breadcrumbs.
5. Form into balls.
6. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of  baking dish.
7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 17 minutes. Yields 16-18 meatballs.

Sausage

4 links Italian sausage

1. Bring sausage in 2 quart saucepan to boil; after boil, cook for 5-10 minutes so it's partially cooked. (Finish cooking in sauce.)
2. Add meatballs and sausage to sauce pot. Continue cooking.

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Food and Drink
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