One of the great all-time comfort foods is Italian-American pasta with sauce known in many Italian (and other) families as Sunday Gravy. No two recipes are identical, and most make use of leftover meats or whatever else is on hand. So, you could customize this recipe endlessly: add shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked ground beef or pork spareribs … the possibilities are infinite. The key to great gravy is to let it simmer for at least 5 hours or so. Mangiamo!
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 lbs. bone-in, beef short ribs
- 2-3 Italian sausages, hot or mild
- Kosher salt
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand (preferably San Marzanos)
- Pasta such as spaghetti, pappardelle, tagliatelle, ziti, etc.
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, Dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the casserole in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 10 minutes. With tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate.
- Place the sausages in the casserole and sear to brown them on all sides. With tongs, remove the sausages and slice them into bite-sized pieces. (The sausages will not be fully cooked yet.) Set aside for use later.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the casserole. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt; cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil.
- Return the short ribs and their juices to the casserole, cover partially and simmer over low heat, turning the short ribs occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick, about 4 hours.
- Transfer the short ribs to a plate again. Remove the bones and cut or shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the sauce, along with the reserved sausage slices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the gravy for another hour or so.
- In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and serve with the Sunday Gravy and (optional) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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