Italian Sunday Gravy

>> Saturday, March 26, 2016

Italian Sunday Gravy

If you've spent any time around big Italian-American families, you've probably had the pleasure of tasting a thick, meaty Sunday gravy - the end-of-the-week belly-busting dinner that fortifies family and friends for the week ahead. Joe was blessed to know a wonderful cook, Florence, who was Danish but married into an Italian family. From her he learned to make the best Sunday gravy we've ever tasted.

This tomato and meat sauce takes a while to make, but it also makes enough to feed all of the Jersey Shore, or enough extra to freeze for quick weekday meals. Once I start smelling the opera of aromas while it's cooking, I'm nipping off to the kitchen to snatch a little shred of pork here and there when Joe's not looking - it's that tempting.

Next time we make this, you're ALL invited over to dinner. We love nothing better than a crowd around our dinner table.


2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste - Joe likes more)
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
8 cloves of garlic, minced fine or pressed
2 lb pork neck bones
1 lb Italian sausage (or turkey Italian sausage) in casing
2 64 oz cans of diced roma tomatoes
1 6 oz can of Italian tomato paste
4 cups homemade stock - beef, chicken, or vegetable
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp crushed dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup good dry red wine (more if sauce is too thick)

1 16 oz box of pasta, such as rotini or farfalle (spaghetti is fine also)
1/4 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese or good Parmesan


Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium low heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and heat in olive oil for about 1 minute to release the flavor and aroma. (Hot pepper oil can be used instead if it is made ahead.) Toss in onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery; saute until tender. Mix in the minced/pressed garlic cloves and saute for another 2 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium high, and add the pork neck bones, stirring occasionally. Cook evenly for about 8 to 10 minutes until just beginning to brown and cooked through. Pour in the chopped tomatoes with juice, and the stock. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the herbs, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir in the dry red wine. Bring to a very low boil and reduce heat to low, simmering for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Italian Sunday Gravy

After 1 hour add the Italian sausage in casings. Stir and simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or longer if you like - Joe has cooked this all day sometimes) checking for thickness as it simmers. If the sauce is too thin add more tomato paste, if it is too thick add some more red wine or stock.

Remove the pork neck bones and Italian sausage links onto separate warm platters. Serve the Italian Sunday Gravy over pasta and the Italian sausage links on the side. Sprinkle with fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Joe likes the neck bones for the tender meat that is on the bones. That is his meat course with a plate of pasta with the gravy.

Serves 8.


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