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)
- Heat oil in large heavy saucepot over medium heat.
- Add pork, turning occasionally, and cook for about 15 min., till browned on all sides.
- Remove pork to a plate, add veal to pot, and brown the same way.
- Remove veal to same plate, then add Italian sausage to pot, and brown as above.
- Drain most of the fat from the pot (leave about 2 tbl) and add garlic, cooking about 2 min., or till golden brown.
- Remove garlic and discard. (fat will contain the garlic's flavor)
- Stir in tomato paste.
- Add pureed tomatoes (with juice) to pot.
- Add water.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add meats and torn basil to pot, reduce heat to a simmer.
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
- Combine all ingredients, except oil in large bowl.
- Using your hands, mix together thoroughly.
- Shape mixture into 2 in. balls.
- Heat oil in large heavy skillet.
- Add meatballs, turning frequently, till browned on all sides.
- Remove meatballs to plate.
- When sauce has cooked for 2-3 hours, add meatballs. (they will finish cooking in sauce).
- 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.
- Remove meats from sauce, to separate serving plate.
- Toss your choice of cooked pasta with the sauce, and serve meats on the side.
- Be sure to serve with a side dish of freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, so you can add as much as you like!