July 2, 2013
Basic Ultimate Sunday Gravy 101
I like Saturday nights the best in the summer. I get the The Nudge for the whole day, we plan a nice meal after all the yard and house projects are completed and sit and talk late into the evening. Our conversation always seems to gravitate into past meals we shared around the dinner table as kids. My mom was an excellent cook and liked to try new foods and The Nudge had a Mom who was a great short order cook so there is lots to tell.
I still make a handful of dishes today, the same way I was taught more than 40 years ago. There are, also, dishes I have made hundreds of times since then that have never been cooked the same way twice. The biggest culprit was the Sunday gravy. Not once since then has it been made the same exact way, until last week when The Nudge yelled up from the basement.....
"Did you know you still have a case of tomatoes down here, and a case in the trunk of your car?"
Time to make a batch in my slow cooker. It holds enough to fill 1 quart-sized Ball jar and 2 pint jars. They get processed (I just love when I hear that pop as the jars seal themselves) in a water bath and that will be enough to get us through the summer. It was then that I had a realization of needing to pin down one recipe.
Yes, there are a few posts for tomato gravy, but this is the one that will be a great base to any other sauce you want to serve. This is the one that you would have been taught if I was your Mom or Nonna, and I was passing on the family tradition of the Ultimate Sunday Gravy.
Tomato sauce is a great, healthy and diabetic way to add tons of great flavor to many low and no carb meals.You don't always have to have a pasta with tomato sauce. Chicken cacciatore, brasciole, meatballs to name a few and pretty much any seafood you like (anyone for roasted mussels?).
Next time you pass the massive section of jarred tomato sauce, pick one up and read the label. Bet you that they all contain some form of sugar and tons of salt. The expensive boutique sauces might appear to be better but not totally, and at over $5.00 a (approx. 20oz) jar, is just not worth it.
Since those days of cooking with my mom, I have never bought a jar of sauce, pinkie swear! If you do not have time to make a 20 minute marinara sauce, do what I do. Make a large batch and store it in your pantry.
I can make 2 quarts (64oz) of sauce for a little over $5.00 with no sugar or salt. Savings of $10.00!! Once my mom started teaching me to cook, she rarely ever made another Italian dish. That was relegated to me. See, my sauce was better than hers. Sorry Mom.
While Mom taught me the basics, Julia taught me about technique (or what the French like to call their WAY and THE only way to cook). Sorry Julia, but I will give you a bye 'cause your not French.
This is the very basic of a basic meat flavored sauce, there is no meat in it, so you can add cooked ground meat or turkey, roasted garlic, vodka, peppers (hot or sweet), mushrooms, basil or a mix of fresh herbs. Any way your family will like it, it's doable. My Dad adds cooked chicken legs. Recipe can be successfully multiplied.
Note: I do not have a built-in timer on my slow cooker so I bought a $3.00 manual timer. I set it for on at 10PM and shut off at 6AM. When I got up, the sauce had cooled off enough for me to strain out the bones and pick out the bay leaves.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes + 8 hours
Yield: 64 ounces
Food mill or potato ricer
* 3 (28oz) cans of Roma tomatoes in juice (not puree or sauce)
* 1 small can roasted garlic tomato paste
* 2 large sweet onions, large chop
* 1 large carrot, peeled & chopped
* 4 large cloves garlic
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1 pound beef marrow bones
* 1 pound pork bones
* 4 small bay leaves
* 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (ie; McCormack, Pensy's, Simply Organic, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350°.
1. Place the bones on a large sheet pan and drizzle with vegetable oil. Bake for 45 minutes.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed stockpot while processing the vegetables.
3. Saute the vegetables until the bottom of the pan starts to brown and they soften.
4. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook until the bottom is very brown, scrapping up the bits with a wooden spoon.
5. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and let it simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated.
6. Add the Roma tomatoes to the slow cooker, spoon in the stockpot mixture, add the bones, and the seasonings. Use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes open, set the thermostat to low, the timer for 8 hours and walk away.
7. Remove the bones and the bay leaves and strain the sauce in a large colander into a large bowl underneath. Spoon the tomatoes and vegetables into the food mill (small hole disk) or ricer (large hole disk) and work them through leaving the seeds and skins behind.
Note: If you do not have either piece of equipment, just work it through a large (not a fine) holed sieve, discarding the solids. Repeat till all the sauce has be processed.
8. Refrigerate for up to two weeks, freeze for up to 6 months or process in a water bath for up to 1 year.