Sunday Gravy with Onion-Herb Focaccia

IMG_1711_1With an Italian husband and a great love for Italian food, quite a bit of it gets made in our household. And as I continue to look at recipes from his family, Bon Appetit and various sources, there is a lot of talk about the San Marzano tomato.

I have always wondered if it was merely another brand, or something organically grown? Will it really change my sauce into something more delicious? I had always doubted a tomato type could do such great things until I finally went into my International food aisle and bought some. Yes, this tomato does indeed have powers beyond your imagination. I am a believer, and may never go back.

The story goes that the first seed of the San Marzano tomato came to Campania in 1770, as a gift from the Kingdom of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples, and that it was planted in the area that corresponds to the present commune of San Marzano. For those who know Italy’s geography know that this area contains volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It is believed that this soil acts as a filter for water impurities. The result – a strong, sweeter, less acidic tomato that will give your sauces a “wow” factor.

This recipe came from Food Network Magazine with some improv – feel free to tinker with the recipe as I did. Also, the simple to make focaccia recipe (also Food Network Magazine) is a great complement.

Note: don’t make the mistake of not letting it simmer all day (hence the “Sunday” in its name). It helps the flavors blend and results in a richer sauce.

Another Note: Yes, the Italians call it gravy and yes, I didn’t know this until I married one. Don’t confuse this with the turkey gravy you get at Thanksgiving – this is your hearty meat sauce for spaghetti!

SUNDAY GRAVY
6 Servings

3 slices white bread, toasted and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup milk
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
10 cloves garlic; 2 minced, 8 smashed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds Italian sausage (half sweet, half hot), halved
1 medium onion, quartered
3 28-ounce cans San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
6 bay leaves
1 pound orecchiette pasta (or any pasta you like)

Soak the bread in the milk until the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the ground beef and pork in a bowl with the egg, cheese, minced garlic, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the soaked bread and mix with your hands until combined. Form into 16 meatballs.IMG_1707

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add sausage to the pot and cook until browned, turning, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large bowl.

Add the onion and smashed garlic to the pot and fry until soft, about

4 minutes. Crush the tomatoes into the pot with your hands and pour in the juices. Stir in the tomato paste, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.

Add 5 cups water and the bay leaves, then return the meatballs, beef shin and sausage to the pot, stirring carefully. Bring to a low boil, stir, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 2 hours, or until the shin meat is very tender. Uncover and simmer until the sauce thickens and the shin meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer all the meats with a slotted spoon to a bowl and cover with foil. Simmer the sauce to thicken, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain and toss with enough sauce to coat lightly, then top with more sauce and the meat. Garnish with parmesan, if desired.

IMG_1710ONION-HERB FOCACCIA
4 Servings

On a floured surface, roll out 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle; press into an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary and/or oregano, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and a big pinch of sea salt. Brush half of the herb oil over the dough, then set aside until puffy, about 1 hour. Make dimples in the dough with your fingers and top with thin onion slices and shaved parmesan. Bake at 400 until golden, about 20 minutes. Brush with the remaining herb oil.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: