A few weeks back, I went spoon-to-spoon with Una Mamma Italiana in a Sunday Gravy War. After all of the votes were tallied, Una Mamma ended up being top tomato. Today, I finally had the chance to make a pot of the winning gravy, step by step. The verdict is in.....and Una Mamma's Sunday Gravy is definitely a winner!
Rather than go over each step of the gravy making method (you can see the recipe first hand by clicking here), I thought it would be best to highlight was makes Una Mamma's gravy so different than mine.
While I start my gravy process with frying up some garlic in olive oil, this recipe calls for garlic AND two onions (I only use onion powder as a flavoring). So right out of the gate you're dealing with some great aromatics. This is also when the wild card ingredient comes in to play...the butter. Now I'm sure that some of you, as I, were stumped with the butter ingredient. Who puts butter in red gravy? You're actually using it to sauté the onions and garlic, so it makes total sense and adds nice flavor.
The next difference that I noticed was adding the tomato paste to the sautéed veggies BEFORE adding the tomato purée. This helps break down the paste into a flavorful brownish sauce that incorporates nicely with the tomatoes...and this is a nice trick that I think I will start to use with my own recipe.
And the final difference is adding the meat at an early stage. I like to first have all of the seasonings and tomatoes marry together for a good 45 minutes or so prior to adding the meats. This allows the sweetness of the tomatoes to really shine through, while allowing the meat flavors to add a tremendous accent to the meal. I call this the Clemenza method (all of you Godfather fans will relate). Una Mamma's recipe, on the other hand, gets the addition of the seared meats involved immediately. This really allows the fats and flavors of the meats to take over, which makes this a true, hands down, no denying, by-the-book MEAT GRAVY.
Final thoughts - my family and I give Una Mamma thumbs up all around! We did find the gravy to be a bit thinner than mine (my addition of a can of sauce thickens it up a bit), however it was very flavorful with an amazing aroma. The thinner gravy isn't a bad thing, it just means [to me] that I would know ahead of time that I would be aiming for this particular taste and texture. Of course I would never turn my back on my own gravy – this would be like turning my back on my own child. But, like all good parents, you are always ready to welcome your friends' children into your house to play as well. And I guarantee you that I will be serving up Una Mamma's Sunday Gravy again in my house.
Bravo, Una Mamma!