Ragu Napoletana = Sunday Gravy
I know it's not a Sunday, but I wanted to give you some good ideas for the upcoming weekend.
As a kid growing up in NJ, my friends would invite me for "Sunday Gravy". Since we weren't Italian, this was foreign to me. Gravy in my family was the brown sauce my mother served with her roast beef or what you put on mashed potatoes.
This heavenly sauce, reserved for Sundays only, was filled with pork shoulder, beef, sausages, red wine and other delights. It simmered on the stove all day and my mouth watered as I sat at their wonderful family tables.
Where I lived, this Sunday gravy was known as Gravy Napoletan ("NAH-BO-LEE-DON"), and it hails from the South, in Naples.
This hearty meat sauce is from Mario Batali's book Molto Italiano, it's very simple to make and is the perfect winter Sunday dinner. It is sure to please.
*Sorry, no substituting TURKEY or CHICKEN sausage in this recipe, it just doesn't work.
(and you know who you are, so don't ask!)
Ragu Napoletana (a.k.a. Sunday Gravy):
1 lb. veal shoulder or pork shoulder cut into chunks
1/2 lb. beef chuck meat, cubed
salt & pepper
3 good quality hot Italian sausages, cut in half
two 28oz. cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes w/ juice
3/4 cup dry red wine (I use chianti)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
In a large Dutch oven, season your meat cubes with salt & pepper and sear in olive oil until brown. You will have to do this in a few batches. Don't overcrowd the meat, you want them to get a nice crust. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pot, add the chopped onion and saute, scraping the bottom of the pot w/ a wooden spoon, loosening up any brown bits. Now add the garlic and cook a minute or two, don't burn the garlic.
After the onion is soft, add the wine, meat chunks, tomatoes and sausages and bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 2 1/2 hours. Sauce will reduce and thicken and meat will be fork tender.
You can add meatballs to this sauce and I have seen other additions of meat, like neck bones, spare ribs, etc., but I followed Mario's recipe (except that he doesn't use garlic, and I did) to the letter. It's a big pot of meat, pork and tomato sauce, so use what you like.
Most people remove the meat to a separate platter and serve just the tomato sauce over pasta, then pass the meat platter. I like to serve the sauce from one pot.
Either way, it's all good!
Serve over rigatoni or penne and enjoy.