Italian Sunday Gravy - Feeding a Crowd, Italian-Style


Italian gravy is a hearty tomato sauce cooked with everything from meatballs, pork, sausages, beef, lamb and veal chops.


Serves - 8 to 10. 


Most sausage has enough seasoning to make extra salt unnecessary. The hearty sauce makes a meal when paired with 2 pounds of rigatoni, ziti, or penne.







NOTE: Go by color more than time on the browning of the meats and tomato paste.  These should be a solid medium to dark brown to help achieve that rich, deep, flavor that this recipe is looking for.


1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add sweet sausage and cook until well browned and fat begins to render, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place in slow-cooker insert. Repeat with hot sausage.


2. Cook onions in sausage fat over medium heat until well browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook until paste begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and simmer, scraping browned bits from pan bottom with wooden spoon, until wine is reduced, about 3 minutes. Transfer to slow-cooker insert and stir in diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.


3. Submerge spareribs and flank steak in sauce in slow-cooker insert. Set slow cooker on low, cover, and cook until meat is tender, 8 to 10 hours. (Alternatively, cook on high for 4 to 5 hours.)


4. About 30 minutes before serving, transfer sausages, ribs, and flank steak to baking sheet and set aside until cool enough to handle. Shred ribs and flank steak into small pieces, discarding excess fat and bones; slice sausages in half crosswise. Use wide spoon to skim fat off surface, then stir sausages and shredded meat back into sauce. Stir in basil and season with pepper. Serve. (Leftover gravy can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.)



Make Ahead


The recipe can be prepared through step 2 up to 2 days in advance. After reducing the wine in step 2, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and browned sausages to the Dutch oven and simmer over medium-low heat until the sausages are cooked through, about 12 minutes. Refrigerate the sausage and sauce mixture in an airtight container until ready to use. When ready to cook the gravy, warm the sauce and the sausages together over medium heat until heated through and transfer to slow-cooker insert. Proceed with step 3.





The ask a hundred Italian grandmothers what meat they use for Sunday gravy and you'll get a hundred different answers-- everything from meatballs to veal chops. For this easy slow-cooker version, the following combination has the best taste and texture.


Italian Sausages

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Browning the sausage in advance helps build deep flavor.



Flank Steak

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This lean cut adds beefy flavor without too much grease.



Country-Style Spareribs

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These meaty ribs become fall-apart tender in a slow cooker.