Sunday Gravy brought me to tears. Check it out in the closing credits. Hand-crushed tomatoes and long-braised meats galore. The traditional, long-cooked pasta sauce from a small village in Campania. You have to make this one next Sunday!
Watch the video once, then follow along with Gianni, glancing at the recipe when you need to cheat:
- Pork braciola: Thinly cut slice of pork shoulder or pork loin
- Beef braciola: Thinly cut slice of beef chuck or round
- Meatballs: Mixture of 1/3 ground beef, ground pork, ground veal,
- 11/2 pounds total
- 4 Italian sausage links
- 1 cup Italian flat parsley, chopped fine
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the pork braciole: about 12 lightly toasted pinoli (pine nuts) and 12 raisins
- For the meatballs: ½ cup of stale bread soaked in water or milk and squeezed dry to form the pinade (la pinada)
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup canola or other vegetable oil
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes imported from Campania, Italy
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 carrot, cut in half and then in 2 inch pieces
- 1 celery stalk cut in 2 inch pieces
- ½ white onion, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs fresh basil
- 4 sprigs fresh flat Italian parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lb or 500 grams pasta. Fusilli napoletani is used in the recipe, but you can use any pasta you want. Make sure that it is durum wheat pasta imported from Italy that is extruded through a bronze die. Look for something like this on the package: “Pasta trafilata in bronzo”.
- 4 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- In a thick-bottomed pot, put the olive oil, the battuto (carrot, celery, onion, garlic and bay leaf). Turn heat to medium-low and sauté slowly. This is your soffritto (the odori, flavoring vegetables and herbs). You want these ingredients to be translucent, not browned, so they infuse the oil with their flavor.
- Crush the San Marzano tomatoes with your hands until they are all broken up into rough chunky texture. Discard any basil, peel or stems or veins on the inside of the tomato (usually white or yellow).
- When the soffritto is translucent and sizzling a bit in the oil, add the tomatoes. Stir to mix the tomatoes and the suffritto. Add the basil and parsley sprigs and submerge in the gravy. Add the sea salt. Reduce to low heat, cover the pot and simmer gently. Stir the pot frequently so it doesn’t burn. This is a long-simmered sauce and will cook for at least 3 hours after the meat is added to the gravy.
- Finely chop the parsley and garlic. Set aside. You will use half for the braciole and half for the meatballs.
- Lay the pork and beef braciole out flat on the board. Take ½ of the garlic/parsley and equally divide the garlic/parsley paste between the two braciole. Spread the paste evenly over the surface of each braciola leaving about a 1/2 inch border at the long edges. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated Pecorino evenly over both braciole. Sprinkle salt and tower to taste over both.
- For the pork braciola only: Spread 12 toasted pinoli and 12 raisins evenly over the pork braciola.
- Tightly roll up each braciole and tie with string to keep the paste inside and to maintain the shape of the braciole.
- Put the ground meat, the remaining chopped garlic/parsley, Pecorino, stale bread pinada, egg, and ground salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Combine the ingredients with your hand. Squeeze everything together so that it is a homogeneous mixture. Put about 2 tablespoons of the meat into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball, round and slightly flat.
- Over a high flame, heat a large sauté pan, add the canola and EVOO and heat until it ripples and smokes a bit. Add all the meat and reduce heat to medium-low and cook the meat until a brown crust forms. Cook the meat in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan. Do not touch the meat until you can easily move the meatballs, sausage and braciole in the pan, without them sticking. Turn over and brown on the other side. You want to caramelize the meat and form a nice brown crust.
- When well browned, transfer the meat, except the meatballs, in the gravy. Make sure all of the meat is submerged. Leave the lid of the pot ajar a bit to let some of the water evaporate so a thicker gravy forms. Gently simmer for at least 3 hours on a low flame. You want the braciole to tenderize by simmering in the gravy. Add the meatballs to the gravy about a half hour prior to cooking the pasta.
Cooking the Pasta and Finishing the Dish
- Put the water and salt in a large pot. Make sure that the pot is big enough to allow the long fusilli to “dance” in the salted water. Cook about 8 minutes until the pasta is very al dente. It will finish cooking in the gravy in a sauté pan.
- Put about 2 cups of the gravy in a large sauté pan and heat over a medium flame. Pull out the al dente fusilli and put in the sauté pan. Finish cooking the fusilli in the gravy, turning it so that the gravy is absorbed by the pasta to finish cooking. You should just have enough gravy to fully coat all of the fusilli.
- Close the flame. Grate Pecorino to taste and mix to distribute it throughout the pasta. If you wish, drizzle with a good quality EVOO.
- Remove the strings from the braciole and slice into ½ inch slices. Put the braciole, meatballs and sausage on a serving platter and top with some of the gravy.
- Serve the pasta in a warm bowl or plate. Traditionally, the pasta is served as a separate course, followed by the meats as the next course. To be honest, I usually serve the pasta and the meats at the same time. My guests can decide how to enjoy the pasta and the long-simmered meats.
Serve with a hearty red from Campania, an aglianico or taurasi perhaps.