Meaty prime rib bones, spareribs and hot Italian sausage slow simmered for hours, in a timeless tomato sauce, until the meat lazes right off the bone and begs to melt in your mouth, tossed with al dente spaghettini, and way too much freshly grated Asiago. Mamma Mia!!
Yes, it is another gloriously flavourful, lovingly prepared Italian tomato meat sauce, but this my friends, is indeed a handcrafted feast to remember. Sunday Gravy is a true Neopolitan masterpiece, steeped in generations of Italian-American family tradition.
You know, that kind of meal you always dream of having if you are ever lucky enough to be invited to one of those real Italian family feasts. Well, this bodacious, slow simmered, tomato sauce indulgent with meat, and ritually served as after-church-early-dinner is indeed manna.
After all, if Sunday Gravy was good enough for Tony Soprano......... Capisce?
I perused and browsed a lot of old family recipes online before I started concocting my version of this deliciously rustic, bountiful, family meal. I used smallish, meaty, prime rib bones, pork side spareribs and top quality, hot Italian sausage in my sauce, but there's no hard-fast rule on what meats to use. I came across recipes using pork chops, meatballs, pork butt, chuck roast, flank steak, braciole and beef short ribs. You cannot go wrong. Seriously!
Next time I think I'm going to leave out the prime rib bones, and in the last half hour of simmering, plop in tiny meatballs. Sì, io sono.
This time around I served our Sunday Gravy over al dente spaghettini (that came in nests), but with tasty satisfaction still fresh in my mind, it seems to me, any pasta would work well with this meaty, filling, traditional dish.
You know what I think?
I think, that before too long, you should get yourself all set up with quality Italiano ingredients and throw on some Dean Martin
Now pour a glass of a big, bold Red, and discover your family's version of Sunday Gravy.
Italian proverb ~ "A tavola non si invecchia."
"At the table with good friends and family you do not become old."
SUNDAY GRAVY ~ Serves 4
2 + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small, sweet onion, chopped
4 plump garlic cloves, minced
4 small-ish, meaty prime rib bones
8 pork side spareribs, cut into 4 pieces
2 large, top quality hot Italian sausages
Heavy handed glass of big, bold, red wine
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano or other Italian peeled, tomatoes, buzzed in blender
1 heaping tablespoon dark brown sugar
6 large, fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
3-4 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
2 big tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
Sea salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghettini nests, or your favorite pasta
Asiago, Parmigianio Reggiano, or Romano cheese, grated.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute 8-12 minutes until starting to get good caramelization, adjusting the heat if necessary so that the onions do not brown too quickly. Add minced garlic, saute another 2-3 minutes. Remove onion and garlic from pot, into small bowl, set aside.
Turn heat to high, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil, add prime rib bones to pot, meaty side down. Cook, turning, if necessary, until nice, golden brown crust forms. Remove from pan, and repeat with spareribs and Italian sausage, adding a bit more oil, if necessary.
Deglaze the pot with red wine. Place the meats and the onion-garlic mixture back into the pot. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, basil, oregano, Italian parsley, red chile flakes and salt and pepper. Stir well, to evenly combine flavours. Bring sauce to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 2 hours, stirring, occasionally, being careful not to break up the meat as it cooks.
After 2 hours remove the lid and let simmer for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, until sauce is the perfect consistency and the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender. If necessary add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water.
Meanwhile, cook pasta, until just al dente, drain. Carefully remove meat from sauce. Cut the sausages into 4 pieces, each. Place the meat on one side of serving platter. Toss cooked pasta with 3/4 of the sauce and place on other side of serving platter. Drizzle remaining sauce over top of meat and pasta, or serve on the side. Top with oodles of grated Asiago. Buona appetito!