Before Covid hit, we always enjoyed going out for various Italian dishes like Fra Diavolo, pizza, veal parm or chicken parm, and lasagna.  However, our love for making homemade pasta, tomato sauce, vodka sauce, Sunday Gravy started several years ago. I will admit that I had not done too much research into the “why” and understanding the different food regions of Italy as we have been cooking these last few years. This week we are focused on Sunday Gravy and it was fun to learn more about all of the different local recipes families make. Basically, all Italian “gravies” are a tomato-based sauce simmered for hours with some kind of beef or pork.  The sauce was traditionally the Winchester rifle of Italian cooking: “load it on Sunday and shoot all week.”  Made in a big batch, the meat and sauce components keep well and can be incorporated into a myriad of dishes over a long period of time.  While many have similar ingredients, it’s interesting how diverse the methods and meats vary.

This week we made a double batch of “Family Ragu with Gennaro Contaldo” and made a few changes/alterations due to our personal taste or not being able to find the meat referenced in the video. Please find the ingredients and a written version of how we made the dish.


-olive oil

-About 2 pounds of beef brisket or beef short ribs (We used beef short rib bone-in)

-About 2 pounds of spareribs (We used country style pork ribs from a local pig)

-14 oz italian pork sausage

salt and pepper

4 bay leaves

2 chopped onions

1 ¼- 1 ½ cups of wine

2 24 oz cans Sam Marzano Tomatoes, chopped

4 bunches of basil

Cobanero chili pepper flakes

1 pound of pasta

Put a Dutch Oven on medium high heat. Put a glug of olive oil into the Dutch Oven and sear the meat (in batches if necessary) for a few minutes on each side so it has a brown crust. Then add in the chopped onion and bay leaves to meat and let it sweat for about 8-10 minutes. Then add a glug of wine to deglaze the pot and let reduce the wine for 5-10 minutes.

Next add in the chopped tomatoes and juices, still on medium high heat (make sure to keep the cans out). Take 1 cup of red wine and the 4 tbsp tomato paste in a separate bowl and combine. Add wine/tomato paste mixture to Dutch oven and stir.  Rinse the sauce out of the can with a bit of water, just enough to get the tomato juice residue out and add to pot. Let the sauce come to a simmer and then break the basil bunches in half and add to sauce.

Simmer on low heat for about 3 1/2 hours or until the sauce cooks down and the meat is tender. Add about ½ teaspoon of Cobanero Chili Flakes and salt & pepper to taste. Take off heat and let rest for about 30 minutes.

Take a large pot and cook pasta.
**We used the Bon Appetite recipe ( and had to add 1 tsp of water to the dough during the first step. Our first try was with Semola flour, not to be confused with Semolina Flour, which was a disaster! The dough did not meld together and just turned to crumbs in the standing mixer. Our next try followed the recipe (with all-purpose flour) and we had a much better result. We cooked the pasta for about 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes.

While pasta is draining, add a scoop of the gravy (try to leave the big chunks of meat behind) to the pasta cooking pot, over medium-high heat.  Add drained pasta, and enough additional sauce to coat generously, and cook over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Serve, adding chunks of meat and additional gravy to taste (and hunger).  Drizzle with olive oil and grated parmesan.

Save the leftovers for more delicious meals in the week! Sunday Gravy is supposed to be eaten all week. I learned that some of the sauce might be used in various recipes during a work week along with the meats being eaten in a sandwich (short-rib sub anyone?).

Hope you enjoyed our first adventure!


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