Josie’s Sicilian meat gravy, what a history this recipe has!! Writing about this recipe is like writing about the holy grail. This defines my Italian Sicilian heritage; every aspect to making this entree is steeped with ritualized steps that go back generations. This gravy “is” our family’s cornerstone. I was raised with having pasta dinners every Sunday.
Like I mentioned in one of my earlier articles, Sundays were family day, growing up we would go to church and on the way home, we would stop at the bakery for Italian bread. When we got home, most times, we would have a”just fried” meatball with gravy which would be simmering for a while by that time and a piece of the just purchased Italian bread; oh those memories are burned into my brain like it was yesterday. This was considered a spezatino (a little snack) before having our dinner which would be about 3 P.M.
What I have written is the basic recipe for the gravy/sauce. There are so many variations to this recipe. I am starting with the basics. As I go along I will either be taking away from this recipe, or I may be adding to it, different variations, in many ways.
To carry out the process of making Italian Gravy does take patience and time. Time and controlling the temperature of the cooking vessel. These factors are what is going to develop the flavor of your gravy. So if you are serious about really learning how to make gravy then you have to be ready to make some mistakes, because that’s how your talent of gravy making will get better.
Make sure you are using either a stainless steel pot or a cast iron pot. Both of these vessels will conduct the heat very well. I personally love Le Creuset Cookware. This cast iron cookware is covered with an enamel coating, which is also very attractive and especially clean. When it comes to stainless steel cookware I like All-Clad and Calphalon. And before you begin your cooking adventures with Italian gravy make sure you are using the appropriate size pot for this undertaking; you want to use the stockpot and there are different sizes for this type pot as well. The average stockpot that comes with cookware sets will be fine for the number of ingredients of this recipe. But if you are doubling this recipe you may have to purchase a larger stockpot; by doing this you will make the execution of this recipe much easier and much less stress on the nerves.
I hope all this information did not make you shy away from trying Josie’s gravy but has fueled your desire to experiment and grow your repertoire of cooking know-how.
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Josie’s Sicilian Meat Gravy
- 2 Chopped onions
- 8 Cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- Bunch Freshly washed and chopped basil
- 1 6 oz. Cento tomato paste
- 1 28 oz. can Cento SanMarzano Organic peeled tomatoes
- 1 28 oz. can Cento San Marzano Crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 quart water, stirred into tomato paste/canned tomatoes
- ½ to ¾ lb. Italian hot sausage cut into 2 inch pieces
- 6 to 8 pre-fried meatballs
- olive oil, free pour, coating the bottom of the stockpot. You will need a good bit since you will be browning the sausage, then removing it and then browning onion medley.
- salt and freshly ground black pepper approximately 2 teaspoons of salt; but salt is purely accordingly to one's individual taste. Salt brings out all the flavor, but too much can also ruin the pot of gravy, taste as you go.
Secret Ingredient-A lot of Italian cooks also use the rind of a partial wheel of parmesan cheese in the gravy for added flavor. Just one of those best keep secrets!
- In the stockpot, coat bottom with olive oil; place the sausage into the pot to brown on all sides of sausage. After browned remove sausage to a platter.
- Chop the onion, garlic, and shallots in a small food processor. Put in the bottom of stockpot; if needed add more olive oil. Brown until transparent.
- Add the tomato paste and some of the water, stir until well combined. Add the hand-crushed tomatoes and the pre-crushed tomatoes to the pot along with the wine and the rest of the water. Add the basil, salt, and pepper
- Add back the sausage and also add the meatballs. Turn up the burner stirring incorporating the ingredients together as it starts to warm. Cover with lid and every few minutes you want to check it for the full rolling boil; when it gets to that point you are going to stir so, to be sure it is not burning and then take down the burner so it is cooking at a high simmer with a lid on. After it gets to that temperature you can bring it to just medium heat put the lid on partially and let the slow cook begin. You are going to let this cook for at least 2 hours. Throughout this time you are going to stir every 12 to 15 minutes so that nothing starts burning,(you are moderating the temperature of the pot) and the flavors are all coming together.
- After its been cooking for this time, you are going to remove the meatballs and the sausage place on the platter. Hopefully, you have the pasta cooked by now and its draining in the colander. Place the pasta in your large serving dish and start to add the gravy/sauce to the pasta to your liking. I hope you enjoy this authentic truly homemade by you, pasta dinner from scratch !! This accomplishment is surely something to be proud of! It takes a long time to get this dish right; I hope I've given you the necessary steps to bring this to a reality for you!
- Chi mangia bene, vive bene!!