Good Morning and welcome back to Stonefly Café’s Food Friday post, a sister post to Wine Wednesday, providing you, our Stonefly family, information concerning wine, food, and living well.
A few weeks ago, Stonefly Café started our Sunday Supper Events that kicked off with an Italian themed evening. This event was based loosely on the Italian American tradition of gathering the entire extended family together each Sunday to share food and friendship while strengthening the family through shared memories and traditions.
The center piece of this weekly meal was, often, a rich tomato sauce infused with the rendered goodness of various meats and known as Sunday Gravy that was served over pasta or as the basis for lasagna or manicotti. This slow cooked and wine infused goodness when paired with antipasto, bread, wine, and desserts, made for a feast fit for kings.
So how does one make this luscious concoction? Well, therein lies the rub, as every grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, mother, and father had their own ideas as to how the perfect gravy should be made and lo to anyone who wished to disagree as this was a personal affront to the maker and most likely the family as well. In the same vain as politics and religion, one should avoid the discussion of the finer points of gravy making in polite company or bear the consequences of heated discussion and perhaps even an invite to take the debate to the back yard.
So, with a full understanding of the pitfalls involved with Sunday Gravy recipes, I will outline below the basics and encourage you to take my suggestions and run with it toward a product of your own design and inspiration.
The first item of discussion must be the choice of meat. Pork shoulder, sausage (both hot and sweet), meatballs, pork or beef short ribs, and beef briciole are all traditional choices with the variety and quantity of each up to the individual maker.
The meat should be sautéed in batches until well browned in a large pot making sure to not overcrowd the pot, inhibiting the browning process. When all the meat has been browned and set aside, a generous quantity of white onion should be added to the pot and sautéed until golden and pushed to the side. Then sauté an entire head of crushed garlic for a few minutes and deglaze with at least two cups of very good red wine.
Add two cans of tomato paste to this mix and 2-3 cans of good quality crushed tomato. Season with one small can of anchovies and add in oil, salt, black pepper, dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes to taste. In the event you have any cheese ends or rinds in the larder, now would be a great time to add them as well.
Return the meats to the pot and simmer for at least three hours or until the sauce becomes rich and flavorful and the meats are fork tender.