Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sunday Tomato Gravy

This recipe is an adapted version (with our family's slight variations) of the recipe from The Soprano's Family Cookbook. Nonna's actual recipe doesn't really have any exact measurements, and I'm just too lazy to figure them out.
This recipe is the closest I've ever tasted to Nonna's Sunday Gravy, a staple at our Sunday family dinners. Nonna would start cooking her gravy at about 7 am, in order to assure that the flavors had plenty of time to blend.
Definitely a time consuming recipe, but worth it! This 'gravy', known as tomato sauce to most Americans, has a slightly different flavor and texture than your run-of-the-mill tomato sauce, but is a wonderful complement to pasta dishes!

Sunday Tomato Gravy (makes 7-9 cups sauce)


2 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb pork neck bones or spareribs
1 lb veal chops
1 lb Italian Sausage
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cans (28 oz. each) Italian peeled tomatoes, pureed
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
6 leaves basil, torn into small pieces (always tear fresh basil and parsley by hand - chopping causes it to lose it's flavor)

  1. Heat oil in large heavy saucepot over medium heat.
  2. Add pork, turning occasionally, and cook for about 15 min., till browned on all sides.
  3. Remove pork to a plate, add veal to pot, and brown the same way.
  4. Remove veal to same plate, then add Italian sausage to pot, and brown as above.
  5. Drain most of the fat from the pot (leave about 2 tbl) and add garlic, cooking about 2 min., or till golden brown.
  6. Remove garlic and discard. (fat will contain the garlic's flavor)
  7. Stir in tomato paste.
  8. Add pureed tomatoes (with juice) to pot.
  9. Add water.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Add meats and torn basil to pot, reduce heat to a simmer.
Partially cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours. (you may add a little water if the sauce gets too thick)


1 lb ground chuck
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (we use homemade seasoned bread crumbs, but packaged plain or Italian style would also do just as well)
2 lg. eggs
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated (for a less strongly flavored cheese, you may use freshly grated Parmesan)
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
2 tbl extra-virgin olive oil, for browning meatballs

  1. Combine all ingredients, except oil in large bowl.
  2. Using your hands, mix together thoroughly.
  3. Shape mixture into 2 in. balls.
  4. Heat oil in large heavy skillet.
  5. Add meatballs, turning frequently, till browned on all sides.
  6. Remove meatballs to plate.
  7. When sauce has cooked for 2-3 hours, add meatballs. (they will finish cooking in sauce).
  8. Cook sauce for an additional 30 min. to 1 hr., stirring occasionally (be careful not to break up the meatballs) till the sauce is thick , and the meats are tender.
  9. Remove meats from sauce, to separate serving plate.
  10. Toss your choice of cooked pasta with the sauce, and serve meats on the side.
  11. Be sure to serve with a side dish of freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, so you can add as much as you like!

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