Makes 3 quarts
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
4 to 6-ounce piece salt pork
meatballs, sausage, pork chops, small roast beef, etc.
1 onion, cut in half
2 stalks celery with leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup dry red wine, to taste
4 large cans Italian plum tomatoes, pureed in food processor
salt, ground black pepper
2 large bunches fresh basil, left on the branch
1. Pat meats dry with paper towels. Warm the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pot. Add garlic, cooking until lightly golden, then discard. Add the meats, searing each one separately, until they are browned. Do not crowd. Remove each meat from the pot; set aside.
2. Pour off any excess fat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. The carrots will take the longest. Return the salt pork to the pot. Stir in tomato paste and wine. Cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes. Fill the empty tomato cans 3/4 full with water, swirling it around to remove any tomato clinging to the sides; pour the water into the pot. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for about 2 hours. Remove and discard vegetables.
3. Return the meats to the pot. Add salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding fresh basil in the last 20 minutes of cooking. If the sauce thickens too much, add 1/2 cup warm water, as needed.
4. To serve, remove and discard the salt pork and basil branches. Arrange the meats on a serving platter, slicing as needed, and napping them with some sauce. In a bowl, toss the sauce with your favorite freshly cooked pasta.