Here is the recipe for Thomas Keller’s tomato sauce, to go with the meatballs. Do keep in mind that this sauce will come out VERY viscous – so viscous, in fact, that I ended up thinning it out with a little bit of my homemade marinara sauce. I think the thicker sauce would be great for a meatball appetizer, but for a pasta dinner, I wanted a little more to sop up.
Otherwise, the flavor of this sauce is incredible – so concentrated and zippy!
Lay out a 7-inch square of cheesecloth. Put the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic near the bottom of the square and fold the bottom edge up and over them. Roll once, tuck in the two ends of the cheesecloth, and continue to roll. Tie the cheesecloth at both ends with kitchen twine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the oil, onion, leeks, and garlic in a large ovenproof Dutch oven or a baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize.
Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, drain the canned tomatoes and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop half the tomatoes. Puree the other half in a food processor.
Add the tomatoes to the vegetables along with the herb packet (satchet), season with salt and pepper to taste, and return to the oven for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and have a full, rich flavor. Run the side of a spoon through the sauce – if it runs back together immediately, it is too thin. Return it to the oven and cook until thickened.
Discard the satchet and let the sauce cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.
"You have to watch it all the time or it burns up."