Written by Joy Errico Seusing
If there was ever a meal that defined my childhood, this is the one. We had this for Sunday “dinner” (2pm) every single week and sometimes on Wednesday nights, too. This is my mom’s version—in my opinion, the very best! You can serve this with any type of pasta that you like. Just boil the pasta per usual and toss with the gravy. There will be enough for 1.5-2lbs pasta! The gravy and meatballs on their own freezes fantastically, too, so you can use it for one dinner and freeze the other half for a second dinner.
By the way, for those that aren’t Italian, gravy is marinara that is cooked with meat. If there is no meat in the sauce, then it is called marinara or “red sauce.”
Patti’s Sunday Gravy and Meatballs
3 tablespoons olive oil or enough to coat the bottom of a large pan (5-8 quarts)
2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic
1-2 sticks pepperoni (depending on how much you like and how big your pan is!)
2 large cans tomato puree (28 oz)
1 can tomato paste (14-15 oz)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup of good red wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it!)
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste
1 lb ground beef (93% lean)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 ½ cups of warm water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Coat the bottom of a very big pan with the olive oil. Heat on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Cut pepperoni into 1 inch chunks and add the oil with minced garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the cans of tomato puree. Add the can of tomato paste. After emptying the tomato paste out of its can, fill it with water and add to the gravy. Add the wine and seasonings. Taste the gravy— If it tastes too salty, add a pinch of sugar. If it tastes too sweet, add a little more salt until you get the flavor you want. Continue the gravy on medium-high heat—it should eventually be very hot and bubbling/starting to boil.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl using a spatula or large spoon, mix the ground hamburger, egg, breadcrumbs, water and seasonings until combined. Form into 2 inch balls. The balls should have a loose, moist texture from the water.
When the gravy starts bubbling and is really hot, add the meatballs. Place them carefully throughout the pan leaving about an inch between them (yes, raw!). Cover and lower the heat to medium for 30 minutes, stirring frequently and paying special attention to the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t burn. Be very careful when you stir so you don’t break up the meatballs. Turn the heat to low and simmer for at least another 30 minutes. The longer you simmer the gravy, the better it will taste. Serve with pasta and enjoy!!!!!!!
Joy Errico Seusing lives in Needham with her husband and two young children. She is the Vice President for External Relations at Jumpstart, a national early education organization headquartered in Boston. In addition to being a happily busy working mom, Joy loves traveling to new places, reading on her Kindle, interior design, power yoga, and of course, cooking! Joy is a monthly contributor for the Parent Talk blog so be sure to check back for new recipe ideas each month.