For the sauce 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound meaty pork neck bones or spareribs 1 pound veal stew meat OR 2 veal shoulder chops 1 pound Italian-style plain or fennel pork sausages 4 cloves garlic 1/4 cup tomato paste 3 cans (28- to 35 ounce size) Italian peeled tomatoes 2 cups water Salt and freshly ground pepper 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces For the Meatballs 1 pound ground beef or a combination of beef and pork 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, preferably homemade 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil To Serve 1 pound shells or rigatoni pasta, cooked and still hot Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Pat the pork dry and put the pieces in the pot. Cook, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer the pork to a plate.
Brown the veal in the same way and add it to the plate. Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Set the sausages aside with the pork. Drain off most of the fat from the pot. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes or until golden. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
With a food mill, puree the tomatoes, with their juice, into the pot. Or, for a chunkier sauce, just chop up the tomatoes and add them. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, veal, and 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 2-inch balls. (Note: If you are making meatballs for lasagna or baked ziti, shape the meat into tiny balls the size of a small grape)
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. (They will finish cooking later.) Transfer the meatballs to a plate. After two hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the meat is 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.
My Italian friends always talk about "gravy" and when I said I wanted to experience real "gravy" one friend gave me this recipe. I was a bit put off by all the work but she assured me that if you want it to taste authentic you have to put in the effort. It's not a sauce, or "gravy", I will make frequently because of a) the work and b) the cost, but for a special occasion it is perfect. I served it to a couple of Italian friends and one southerner and they all loved it.
littleitaly October 21, 2013 REVIEW:
If you appreciate good food then this recipe is for you. It is a lot of work and will cost you a few bucks for the ingredients but it is going to be the best gravy you've ever had. That's "sauce" to some of you.
Pesowife January 22, 2013 REVIEW:
I have made this two or three times now. I stopped using veal being that I can only get boneless and it is $30 a pound. I used cross-cut flanken-style beef chuck with the bone and didn't miss the veal. Like other reviewers, I used a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausage. I cooked the sauce about an hour longer than advised and skimmed the fat off while reducing. At this Finally, I thought I may have added too much salt to the "gravy", so I omitted the salt for the meatballs. Added meatballs at this point, being that they were almost cooked through. I used a 50/50 combo of ground beef and ground pork as well as a 50/50 combo of both romano and parmesean cheeses. Let meatballs and sauce cook for an additional half an hour. Delicious, but the meatballs could have used a bit of salt. Go-to Gravy! I call this Italian crack. My husband goes crazy for this.
NJ Chef January 10, 2013 REVIEW:
I've been making this recipe since it first appeared. I do add an onion and I eliminated the initial 2 cups of water. I only add water or stock as needed. The brand of peeled tomatos you use will make a difference. I happen to like the Tuttorosso peeled plum tomatos. They come in a light juice. Everyone will have their own preference. Excellent Recipe!
PRINCESS October 29, 2012 REVIEW:
I made this last night for my father, he loved it and so did I. The meatballs were excelent. I will be making this again and I would not change a thing. Good job
Barbara D February 19, 2010 REVIEW:
Yes it is time comsuming but tastes so good it's worth the time. I'm making it next week for a crowd. Tastes better after it sits overnight in the fridge. I can never buy bottled sauce again! YUM!
alb December 18, 2009 REVIEW:
This gravy recipe has ruined me for any other red sauce! Yes, it takes time - but fills the house with the aroma of quality cooking. I use it to make lasagne with homemade noodles, and it's out of this world. Don't change a thing!
LG January 3, 2009 REVIEW:
Have made this gravy several times & it's always a hit! The meat is great, and everyone goes crazy for the spare ribs...It's definitely worth the bit of extra time it takes.
kodi November 28, 2008 REVIEW:
this is a time consuming recipe but, food is love! i cook for 2 so it makes great meat for dinners and lunches all week and the sauce flavor is amazing never had a complaint yet! I do use beef as i refuse to eat veal, still awesome.
Amy C April 20, 2007 REVIEW:
This is one of the best gravy recipes I have ever found. Everybody who I make it for loves it. The meatballs are also great. Sometimes I make the meatballs without the sauce and it's still great.
Bob Chelli December 7, 2006 REVIEW:
A little time consuming to build the sauce but a winner for any group of people. Rich sauce with a deeply satisfying flavor.