One thing I do add to my gravy is a basil pesto cube.
One more special addition before we get on with the gravy. When you buy a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano, or Locatelli Romano, and you can't grate any more from the wedge - you are down to the rind of the cheese - add the rind of the cheese to the simmering gravy. This cheese is very expensive and you can get the last bit of goodness out of the cheese and add more flavor to your gravy.
Each family has their own traditions for Sunday Gravy, passed down from generation to generation. I took bits and pieces from everyone I knew - tried everyone's method, and this is my version.
- 1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 5 to 6- 28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano if available or Tuttoroso )
- 4 Tb. chopped parsley
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 basil pesto cube
- 5 to 6 meaty pork neck bones
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 lbs. ground veal, pork and beef (sometimes called meatloaf mix)
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Pass tomatoes and their liquid through a blender and set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large 5 quart pot of medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring until wilted about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and oregano. Add tomato paste and cook, until the tomato paste loses its raw flavor (as you would flour in a roux) about 2-3 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While sauce is simmering, place sausage and pork neck bones on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake until golden brown - 30-40 minutes.
Add sausages and pork neck bones to the simmering gravy. Drain the fat from the baking sheet. Add a few ladles of sauce to the baking sheet to pick up any browned bits from the sausage. Add to the gravy.
Mix all ingredients for the meatballs. You can bake the meatballs along with the sausage, or as I sometimes do, I form them and put them directly in the sauce. Just give them a chance to cook a little before stirring.
After about 30 minutes to an hour - you can start dunking. This should be done in half hour intervals, or if your really hungry, about every 15 to 20 minutes. White bread, italian bread - take a chunk and dunk. As the gravy simmers you may need to adjust seasonings.
Now onto dessert. My son and I took a trip to Hoboken, NJ to visit Carlo's Bakery. This is the famous bakery on Food Network - Cake Boss. Surprisingly, the bakery is very small, but from talking to some of the patrons, the line is usually out the door. This was a snowy, cold, day and everyone was packed inside. The line went smoothly, everyone taking pictures. We even saw a camera man filming! I didn't see any familiar faces from the TV show, but it was worth the trip. I have never had a better cannoli. They fill them fresh when you order them, so the shells are fresh and crisp. The cannoli filling has just the right amount of cinnamon to make them irresistable! There would be a picture of them for you to see, but unfortunately they have vanished. A little on the pricey side, but if you are ever in the area, make a stop. I took as many pictures as I could without looking obnoxious. It's for the cause!
Lo ama la cucina Italiana! Buon Appetito!