As promised last week, with the first cool day of fall this past Sunday, the house filled with the aroma of homemade Sunday Gravy. I leaked some images through my Twitter and Facebook feed as I was cooking, but below is a step by step photo essay of this wonderful pasta condimento.
I tried to make mental note of every step in this process. It surely takes time, but it’s easy work. The first thing I did was assemble all the ingredients, chop the garlic and slice the onions. Mis en place: 4 cans Cento crushed tomatoes, 2 cans Cento San Marzano whole tomatoes, 10 cloves garlic sliced, 2 sweet onions sliced, 2 packages pork spare ribs, 2 veal shanks for Osso Bucco, 6 links sweet Italian sausage, and 2lbs ground beef for meatballs.
|Tomatoes, onions, garlic, and meat, all ready to go.
Start by sauteing the onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil in a BAP® – add salt and pepper. It takes about 6-8 minutes to nicely soften, just don’t let them begin to brown. Here it is, after 4 or 5 minutes.
|Shot of Onions & Garlic in the BAP®
Once soft, you can begin adding the tomatoes. Wear an apron or a lousy shirt – not splattering is almost not an option. Once the tomatoes went in, I added about 10 fresh basil leaves from the garden. Some I tore, some went in whole. Simultaneously, I had already begun browning the ribs, shanks and sausage in a separate large frying pan. Here’s the sauce in the BAP before the addition of any meat.
|Note how bright red the sauce looks at this point
Once the meat was browned and in the BAP, I made the meatballs. In a large bowl I combined the 2 lbs of ground beef, three extra large eggs, 8 tablespoons of pecorino cheese, about a half cup breadcrumbs, 4 diced garlic cloves, maybe a few tablespoons of dried parsley, salt and pepper. Mix gently and begin forming into balls. Brown in batches:
|Work in batches: the two pounds of beef yielded me 14 meatballs.
Once browned, you can “float” them into the top of the BAP. Try not to stir the gravy for several minutes after incorporating the meatballs, or they can fall apart. They should be browned, but they go in soft and raw in the middle. Overstirring will break them up.
|This batch is almost ready for the BAP
Once the meatballs are in, you’re essentially done! Yesterday, this was about 10:30AM. I kept the flame on low, and cooked the entire thing until dinner at 6PM. The meat from the ribs and the veal shanks fell off the bones. The onions disentegrated. The meat was succulent. Here’s a picture of the gravy around 1PM.
|You can see here, top center, meat still clinging to bone. The sauce is thick, but still predominantly red. It’s beginning to reduce.
The picture below was taken closer to 5 PM. At this point, the gravy was basically done, but I continued to allow it to simmer until we were ready to eat.
|The gravy is now a brownish red as it takes color from the meat. Note the reduction in the BAP – I probably lost 2-3 inches in volume as it cooked down.
The final product, before the indulgence…….
|The finished “condimento” in the serving platter. You can see the now shredded pork rib meat throughout and note the consistency and color of the gravy.
And of course, the indulgence….. I fished out the bones and the gravy meat from the BAP and put them into a serving bowl. We opened the 2006 Haywood Rocky Terrace Zinfandel. This is among the best Zinfandels you can buy – period! The wine boasts aromas of crushed berries, menthol, lavendar and flowers. In the mouth, it’s viscous without being overdone. It’s got such purity of fruit. Briary, wild berries, coat the palate and the acidity stands up to the tomato based gravy. Slight finish of cocoa and licorice. With the sausage, and the succulent pork, this was absolutely sublime. 93 points, about $30.
|The “fished out” gravy meat, in a serving bowl, along with the 2006 Haywood “Rocky Terrace” Zinfandel.
In the aftermath, I ended up with enough meatballs and sausages for 1 more large meal (6 people). I also ended up with 5 containers filled with 12 ounces of gravy for future pasta dinners. It freezes easily. It’s still delicious even when it’s thawed, but there’s just something special about the season’s first pot: the way the aromas fill the house, the kids dipping bread into the BAP while it cooks…..(Crusty bread is a must!)
Take the time to try it this fall. I do not think you’ll be disappointed……