Stop whatever you are doing.
We need to have a little conversation about marriage counseling. Sort of.
In case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the note my husband posted on my wall yesterday:
“Dearest Jennifer, I have the most amazing upwelling of love for you right now. You are the most wonderful woman, truly a gift from God Himself to me and our young children. Your superior intelligence, your bewildering beauty, your otherworldly ability to excel at every thing you do – Just three of the myriad of things that make me the luckiest man in the world to have you as my wife. I love you…. (Brought to you by Day 2 of Sunday Gravy, The Leftovers)”
Let me assure you that every word of that little love note was due to the creation of a certain dish known as Sunday Gravy.
If you aren’t familiar with Sunday Gravy you can Google it…or watch The Sopranos. But basically it is braised meats in a red sauce served over pasta.
Doesn’t that sound simple?
Two weeks ago our air conditioner stopped working. And if you know anything about the weather here, you know what an emergency that was. My silver-tongued husband was conveniently out of town. Lucky for me our neighbor has a long history of air-conditioner repair under his belt and came to the rescue.
I told him I would make him dinner as a thank you.
He mentioned comfort food…and Italian. And so this weekend we had him over.
The other great thing about this dish is that it is a product of my recipe box raid. And I’m so glad I have a photo of the actual recipe I took from my friend Christy. It was one of the reasons I was excited to make it…the page is all messy and smeared…good signs that it has been well-used.
Check it out:
Of course there were some adjustments, because I’m incapable of following a recipe to a tee…but not too many. I mean, seriously, who wants to mess with an Italian recipe from a guy named Rinaldo Monteferrante?
I used beef short ribs, sweet and hot Italian sausage and fresh meatballs…I doubled the garlic, because I always double the garlic…all fresh herbs…a blend of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses…and I highly recommend the San Marzano tomatoes – I really think they make the best sauce.
Add some garlic bread and a simple Caesar salad…and dinner was delicious! My favorite salad is chopped Romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan (use a vegetable peeler to get those cool curls) crunchy croutons, black olives and a great Caesar dressing, splashed with lemon juice. Yum.
I plated the braised meats with the pasta and served the rest of the sauce on the side so everyone could just add however much they wanted. (Also Christy told me that the leftover gravy freezes really well.)
I also made an Orange-Vanilla Crème Brûlée for dessert that was my favorite so far. I’ve made a lot of those little ramekins of heaven over the years and I think this one is the best. Well, it’s in the top 5 at least. I’ll post about it soon.
Make this dish on your next available Sunday and see what shows up on your Facebook wall…you might save a ton in marriage therapy expenses. You can send your thank you cards to Rinaldo…I wonder if he knows that he’s saving relationships all over the world?
adapted from Rinaldo Monteferrante, by way of Christy Nielson
Beef short ribs (about 1 per person)
Italian sausage (I used both hot and sweet links) 1.5-2lbs
Meatballs – about a dozen (I used a recipe close to this one) a blend of turkey and pork, minus the sauce and without the oven part (of course you could also just buy the pre-made meatballs if you wanted to make this even simpler.)
2 – 28oz cans of whole, peeled tomatoes, the San Marzano variety
12 oz tomato paste
6 (or 12) garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 TB Italian parsley, chopped
2 TB fresh oregano, chopped
2 TB fresh sweet basil, chopped
1 Bay leaf
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 lbs linguine (DeCecco or Delverde)
Parmigiano Reggiano – a nice big hunk of it, grated
Pecorino – half of a hunk of it, grated
Heat the olive oil in a large pot ( at least a 5qt.) Brown garlic and onion. Brown the meat until seared on the outside. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, red pepper and about 1.5 cups of water. Simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring frequently. Add fresh herbs for the last 20-30 minutes of simmering.
Cook linguine al dente, drain and pour into large bowl. Remove meat from sauce to a large platter. Mix pasta with sauce, if desired, and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. (Or serve sauce on the side…whatever makes you happy.)
As indicated by my husband’s note, this is better the next day so, when possible, make the sauce the day before you actually want to serve it. And consider that 2-hour simmer time a minimum…I would say 4 is better.