About The Sunday Gravy: This, believe
it or not, is actually an authentic SiciIian dish. And I am almost
sure everyone is familiar with the most common Sicilian/Italian tradition
of Sunday Gravy. While most call it sauce, to us it was always called
gravy, and it was red, never the brown stuff you put on turkey.
Anyway, around 3 pm my father would
put on either Sinatra or something along those lines and we would sit down
to Sunday Dinner. And even though I was born here in the United States,
there was still wine on the table at every meal. More clearly, the
straw bottle of Chianti or even that re-used bottle filled with a freind
or neighbor's home made red wine, which many cannot appreciate the taste
of. It is strong, and it has a very home made taste to it, but if it
was done right, one sip can take you back 20-30 years or more to where you
were sitting the last time you had a glass. Sometimes that place was
a tiny basement in Newark, or the terrace of my cousin in Sicily. But
anywhere, anytime, it takes you back and reminds you of your heritage. The
sauce, always made fresh on Sunday, was also saved (because there is plenty
left over for a family of 4) and re-served with fresh pasta on Tuesday
and Thursdays . The myth that Wednesday was spaghetti day was due to
a Prince Spaghetti commercial, not true tradition. Whatever the tradition,
I feel lucky to have it at least once a week, and if you follow this recipe
twice, so will you. Please note, this does take a couple of hours,
so its not for the impatient, and you need to stir it often, so if you are
the active type, be sure you will be in one place for at least 2 hours and/or
pick a rainy sunday to do it where you know you be close to the kitchen.
The only variation of this recipe I have seen is in movies like the
Godfather where they add sugar. If you do this right, it will be sweet
enough without the sugar, the sugar also makes it taste (in my opinion) like
it came from a jar or cheap restaurant.
Additionally, the meat that is used can also be
chunks of beef or sausage, but remember, its ok to experiment, but the different
meats you use will give your gravy a distinct taste. My mother grew
up during the depression, so meat was expensive and they could not afford
it. Chop meat was cheaper and that is why they used that for the
meatballs. You can also serve this with
garlic bread and/or a salad. Salads were
generally served after the pasta and consisted of oil and red vinegar, some
oregano and salt & pepper.
The Recipe: Please please please always
use the freshest ingredients available. It will make all the difference
in the world, and having made this recipe in a rural area of Texas and South
Lake Tahoe, I would guess these ingredients are available practially everywhere
in the United States, and always in Sicily or Italy!
Gravy: After the
meatballs are made, its time to start the gravy.
In a large pot add the can of tomatoes and tomato paste along with
the can of cold water. Allow to come to a slow boil over medium or
medium low heat, stir often to break up the paste and stir the mixture. Once
it comes to a slow boil, reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs. Add
the oregano and basil and continue to stir every time it starts to bubble
or boil. Continue to stir like this every few minutes for an couple of hours
until the gravy reduces or thickens.
When the gravy is done, remove the meatballs and
put in a separate serving dish. Boil the spaghetti or other pasta (penne
is also good) and be sure to use a full pot of boiling water, adding salt
to the water to make it boil is optional, as is adding a few drops of olive
oil. Water takes at least 20 minutes
to come to a rolling boil, but the pasta will cook in 10 minutes or less
(some cases 15, depending on the brand of pasta, fresh pasta cooks in less
than 5 minutes generally). Drain the pasta well, add just a tiny bit
of sauce to the drained pasta to keep it from sticking, and leave out a bowl
of extra sauce for those who like more or a lot of sauce.