Monday, March 10, 2008

Tony D's Sunday Gravy

Way back when, long before the distractions of the internet, hi def TV, and iPods, families actually sat down and ate dinner together. Sunday night was the BIG night when you pulled out all the stops and the cooking started before noon. Growing up in an Italian household in Brooklyn in the 60’s, we looked forward to it. Pasta was macaroni and tomato sauce was gravy and that was that. And Wednesday was definitely not Prince Spaghetti day, no matter what the TV told you. My father was the cook and he had 4 sons to do the prep and clean up work. It would all start with us sitting on kitchen chairs with a big stock pot between our legs and we would have to push tomatoes through a colander to separate the skin and seeds from the pulp. There is nothing like gravy from fresh tomatoes but here is the short cut using canned that you can make year round.


1 can of tomato paste
3 cans 28oz crushed tomatoes
Chopped garlic
Crushed Oregano
Crushed Basil
Red Wine
Pork sausage, hot or mild or hunk of pork loin
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated

Start by pouring some olive oil in the bottom of the pot, using medium heat, brown the sausage until almost done. Remove sausage and drain on paper towels.They will get finished later. Leave oil in pot. Put chopped garlic in pan, as much as you feel comfortable with. Don’t over do the spices as you can’t take them out but you can add more later. If you use the jarred chopped garlic, use about half a teaspoon. Sauté until slightly brown and then add can of tomato paste. Don’t fry the garlic past golden or it will caramelize and take on a nutty flavor. Cook the paste and garlic together, stirring constantly until hot. Pour in all three cans of tomatoes and stir together. Reduce heat to low and leave uncovered. Cook this for one hour, stirring occasionally. Sauce should have reduced by 1/3 at this point. Now add a few healthy shakes of the oregano, basil, and parmesan cheese. Pour a few dashes of the red wine in. You can also use cooking wine available at the supermarket but that’s no fun ‘cause you’ve got nothing to drink while you make this! Watch the pot and stir for the next hour or until it has further reduced and gravy is thick. You can now add back the sausage you browned or add meatballs you’ve already made. Some info from the guy that was there: If you remember in the Godfather, Clemenza, added sugar to his gravy. Do that here and I will come over to your house and hit you with a wooden spoon. In GoodFella’s it was onions, try it, and I’ll be back with the spoon.

Anyway, there it is. Let me know how it comes out. Maybe next time we’ll make the meatballs!