Gravy (Tomato and Meat Sauce for Pasta)

I know there are a lot of different terms for this. I call it gravy. Always have. Always will. It’s from growing up in an Italian household from the Northeastern part of the United States. So, call it what you will; tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, meat sauce or gravy. But, whatever you call it, it’s a good foodgasm.

So…..where to start? First you need to figure out what meat you are making the gravy with. No meat = no gravy, pretty much.

Normally, I use 3 lbs of ground meat mix (beef, pork and veal) and make meatballs with that. They need to be pre-cooked FIRST. Do not attempt to put them in raw, they will not cook and it’s just gross.

I also put in 1 lb of hot sausage, cooked and cut into links and usually some type of pork. Ribs normally, but I have also used a boneless hunk of pork. Today, I am actually using a piece of beef for a change. Either way, cook it first. I bake the pork in the oven with the sausage at 350° for a good hour, turning it once.  You want a nice, crisp crust on the pork.  Please season it first.

Like I said, it’s up to you. Just meatballs are fine. You need some meat to call it gravy. If not, it’s just tomato sauce.

Once all of that is prepared, you can start the gravy.  For it you will need:

  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes (I use Tuttorosso in the green can)
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper, ground fresh
  • pinch of sugar
  • freshly chopped basil
  • freshly chopped parsley

In a large stock pot, saute garlic, onion and red pepper flakes for about three minutes, stirring so garlic does not burn.

Add tomato paste and stir well.  Add about a 1/4 cup red wine to it and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the three cans of crushed tomatoes, stir well to incorporate with paste mixture.  Fill one of the cans with water and add it to the sauce.  Season with about a teaspoon of salt, a few grindings of pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Stir again.  Bring to a slow boil.  Add another 1/4 cup of wine or more to the sauce. 

Add all of the meat now and lower heat to a simmer.  Cover the pot, leaving the lid askew, so the sauce thickens.

Check and stir every 30 minutes and cook for at least five hours.  Taste every now and then, as well, for seasoning and to see if it’s getting “done.”  You’ll need a loaf of Italian bread to do this.  It’s a must.

Just kidding. But it is a good way to taste it.

When it’s almost done, add some freshly chopped basil and parsley.

When it’s done, turn off heat.  Spoon over a steaming dish of pasta of your choice or just dive in with some bread and go at it.

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4 responses

  1. Judy

    This is a LOT like my Mom’s recipe — right down to the bread to taste with!

    August 16, 2010 at 11:33 pm

  2. My mom and grandmother always made it with whole plum canned tomatoes. I thought it was too watery that way. When I started making my own, I tried the crushed and liked it. And if I use some other brand of tomato, I wind up not liking it. Those have the perfect texture that we like.

    August 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm

  3. Mariann

    Tuttorosso are my favorite crushed tomatoes!

    August 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    • YAY! They are the best. Just not the same without them. And, my Acme suddenly decided to not carry them anymore. They only have the blue can which IS NOT the same thing.

      August 19, 2010 at 10:20 pm

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