Italian Sunday Gravy [slow cooker)
Italian gravy is a hearty tomato sauce cooked with everything from meatballs to pork chops. Our tests helped uncover which meats yielded the best taste, texture, and convenience.
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.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound hot Italian sausage
2 onions , chopped medium
12 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 pounds bone-in country-style spareribs , trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Shopping The Meat Matters Ask a hundred Italian grandmothers what meat they use for Sunday gravy and you’ll get a hundred different answers everything from meatballs to pork chops. For our easy slow-cooker version, we prefer the taste, texture, and convenience of the following combination.
ITALIAN SAUSAGES: Browning the sausage in advance helps build deep flavor.
FLANK STEAK: This lean cut adds beefy flavor without too much grease.
COUNTRY-STYLE SPARERIBS: These meaty ribs become fall-apart tender in a