Everyone has an Italian grandmother. The figure who will mercilessly beat you with a rolling pin if you make a mess of the sauce. The woman who’s cooking is the greatest in the world. The cuisine of tradition, passed down from generations untold, with decades of experience behind it. Young chefs out there think they can out-cook any Italian grandmother. Chefs who know a thing or two show deep respect for those who can make the simplest of ingredients shine. We all have something to learn from our Italian grandmothers.
I, of course, don’t actually have an Italian grandmother. But I have put a great deal of effort into replicating what they do, and here is my version of gravy. Gravy. The Italian red sauce, the ‘Sunday’ sauce. The real deal. The sauce that cooks for hours and hours while sheets of fresh pasta are laboriously rolled by hand.
makes 1 gallon
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 8-12 hrs
5 lb veal bones
1 bone-in pork shank
2 lb beef short ribs
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato puree
2 large yellow onions, rough chop
1 head garlic, peeled and broken into cloves, rough chop
3 cups red wine (dry, like chianti)
4 sprigs thyme
1 bunch italian basil
1 sprig rosemary
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seed
2 tbsp dry oregano
good quality chicken stock
¼ cup tomato paste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bones, pork shank and short rib lightly with oil, salt and pepper. Roast until deeply browned and caramelized. Drain.
In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until very fragrant. Add the bones, short ribs, pork and tomato paste. Stir until everything is evenly coated with the tomato paste. Do not let burn. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Add all tomato product. Mince the thyme and rosemary and add. Add the fennel seed, dry oregano and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper. Tear the basil over the sauce and add chicken stock until the entire sauce is loose. Bring to simmer, turn heat to low and cook, 8-12 hrs, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thick. Check and adjust the seasoning.
Remove the bones, short ribs and pork (I use the meat from the bones to enhance meatball mix). Serve over spaghetti.
Serve with broccoli slathered in garlic, cheap red wine, maybe veal cutlets dredged in seasoned flour and parmesan and pan fried in olive oil, and garlic bread.
Forget about it.