I’ve talked before about my love of all things mafioso. While I was always a fan of the classics like Goodfellas and The Godfather trilogy, it was really The Sopranos that really cemented that love. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Sopranos Family Cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried from it has been wonderful. The first one that I ever made from it’s pages is this recipe for Sunday gravy…
Italians call a meaty sauce that’s been simmered all day a “gravy”. This one is made with the addition of country pork ribs, sausage, and veal – which I leave out (I just can’t get past the baby cow thing). Now, if you’ve never added pork to your red sauce – with all due respect, but you’ve sorely been missing out. It adds such a wonderful richness and complexity that is unparalleled. Sausage is great, but the pork ribs are really where it’s at.
It’s wonderful simply tossed with pasta, or if you want to doll it up even more you can add mozzarella cheese and mini-meatballs to make Ziti al Forno. No matter what you do with it, you can’t go wrong with this sauce. It’s really a staple. Do yourself a favor and make it soon, you won’t regret it! Bada-bing.
Soprano’s Sunday Gravy
For the sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb meaty pork neck bones or 1 lb pork spareribs
1 lb Italian sausage
4 garlic cloves
1?4 cup tomato paste
3 (28 ounce) cans peeled Italian tomatoes
2 cups water
6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
For the meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef (at least 80/20)
1?2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1?2 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Pat the pork dry, season with salt and pepper, and place the pieces in the pot. Cook turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer pork to a plate.
Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Set the sausages aside with the pork. Drain off most of the rendered fat from the pot.
Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute until starting to brown.
Using clean hands, gently squeeze the tomatoes to break them down slightly, and add to the pot (along with the tomato juices). Add the water; and salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, sausages, and basil and bring the sauce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.
Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Rinse your hands with cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 3/4 inch balls.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. They will finish cooking in the sauce. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.
After the sauce has cooked for its two hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the meats are very tender.
To serve, remove the meats from the sauce and set aside. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Serve the meats as a second course, or reserve them for another day.
Source: adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook