Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Gravy

Happy New Years, everyone! I decide to kick off 2009 with a real bang...Sunday Gravy. As you may have read in my blog intro, I made my first pot of gravy with my mom's old neighbor way back when I was a kid. I have made countless pots of gravy since, but only in the past few years have I really zeroed in on a specific recipe. However, I have never followed a written recipe. It was always from memory, or whatever mood I was in that day. Although I found it a bit painstaking (as I believe this should be a free-form dish), I documented every measurement while making today's gravy. You're welcome.

First, let me address the whole gravy versus sauce issue. There are countless opinions on the subject. My new friend, Lorraine Ranalli, just wrote a book on it (I suggest you all visit her fantastic web site). When I hear "sauce," I think Marinara. Quick. Delicious, nonetheless...but quick.You heat your oil and garlic, add your tomatoes, onions, seasonings, maybe even some meat or shrimp, and in 20-30 minutes you have a tasty meal. Gravy, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. My guess (and this is only a guess) is that the term comes from the flavors of the meats that are incorporated. The "other" gravies (beef, turkey, chicken, etc.) are, of course, made from meat drippings. But the main difference to me is the time, patience and love that you put in to your gravy (I was gonna go with blood, sweat and tears, but that would be gross). You treat your pot of gravy as if it were a child. You raise it and nurture it, from it's infant stage until it matures.

I always add meatballs to my gravy, usually with either sausage, boneless country spare ribs, or brasciole (thin steak stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture and rolled up). Today I went with the spare ribs. First, I marinated them in apple cider vinegar, then gave them a quick rub with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary, then roasted them slow and low for 75 minutes at 325ยบ. I also prefer to bake my meatballs and sausage, instead of the traditional frying. It's just as tasty, healthier for you, and frees up some quality time.

Before we get into the actual'll notice that I suggest adding two baby carrots to the gravy. This is an old trick that I learned a few years back. The carrots add a natural sweetness to the gravy, while at the same time soak up some of the acid from the tomatoes. I joke with my friends that when the gravy is done cooking, you could probably add a wick to the carrots and light them up on the 4th of July.

One last note...if you decide to try my Sunday Gravy recipe, I would be delighted. But if you decide to alter my recipe, and add your own flavors or ingredients, I would be overjoyed. Experiment, adjust the flavors to your likings, and most of all have fun. And be sure to share your version of the recipe with me.


2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 29-oz can tomato sauce (plus one can full of water)
1 6-oz can tomato paste with Italian herbs
olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblspn Italian Seasoning (marjorim, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano and basil)
1 tblspn sugar
1 beef bouillon cube
2 baby carrots
1 cup red wine(whatever you have opened)
1 loaf crusty Italian bread

Drizzle bottom of sauce pot with olive oil to coat on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion; stir for 1 minute or until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic; stir for about one minute. Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes, one can of tomato sauce plus one can of water, and one can of tomato paste; stir. Add Italian seasoning and sugar; stir. Heat and occasionally stir until slowly bubbling. Add bouillon cube, baby carrots and splash of wine; stir. Lower heat, slightly cover and simmer for one hour. Add meats; simmer partially covered for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Sip and enjoy the remaining cup of wine as you dip some bread into the gravy while it's cooking.

Serve over your choice of pasta and enjoy!


Lorraine Ranalli said...

Love the commentary! I don't know an Italian who follows written recipes. We all adapt our own flare in the kitchen and, just as Dom did, we encourage you to do the same. Dom is also right on about the passion with which we "rear" our Sunday gravy--perfect analogy. As for gravy vs. sauce, please consult "Gravy Wars | South Philly Foods, Feuds & Attytudes." Mangia!

Heidi said...

Love the bit about the wine and bread - I tend to nibble or "test" whatever I'm cooking, and then by the time it's ready I'm not even hungry anymore!

I guess what I usually make is marinara because it's quick. I'll have to try making some real gravy sometime though!

ps - looking forward to more photos :)

Leanne said...

Interesting! Great read!! I tend to follow my mom's way of making gravy - but it never comes out exactly the same. She uses bell peppers & sautees them in the oil & then adds the paste - kinda frying it a bit before the other wet ingredients. I use a bit of baking soda & no sugar. I believe mine is different because it depends on the tomatoes you use. I tried some store brands - not always a good idea. Oh, and I swear by Lambrusco!!!

una mamma italiana said...

WOW...that's really all I can say...and I haven't even tried the recipe just SOUNDS THAT GOOD! I can't wait to see what the beef bullion does to the flavor! Looks good, Dom!

Kunoichi Erica said...

Thanks for checking out ExBEERiment! Gotta say: your website is a great find for us. We may be good with beer...but we're embarrassingly deficient in the cooking arena!