Grandpop’s Sunday Sauce comes from a small collection of recipes handed down to me by my aunt. The original recipe for his restaurant makes about seven gallons so I’ve converted it to about three quarts for home kitchens. This is the quintessential Italian tomato sauce I had growing up and I’m happy to share it with you.
Crushed tomatoes and tomato puree are simmered with onions, garlic, herbs, red wine and equal parts beef, pork, and veal then strained from the final product. You can use this sauce as a base for any recipe. Pasta, Lasagna, Stuffed Shells, Meatballs, or Chicken Parm could all use this rich, deep meaty meatless sauce. My favorite way to enjoy Grandpop’s Sunday Sauce has always been dipping some buttered bread in to the pot while it’s still cooking.
The not-so-secret secret to this sauce is straining out all the solids – this is not a bolognese sauce. This Sunday Sauce is an inexpensive and healthier shortcut to what my family actually made at home. This included braising meatballs, braciola, and spare ribs right in the tomato sauce for many hours. I mean, spare ribs braised in tomato sauce is heaven but it does render the sauce a little less universal. This super old school restaurant recipe saves time and money and reduces a lot of the fat without sacrificing flavor.
Grandpop's Sunday Gravy
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup onion finely diced
- 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
- 3/4 lbs. ground beef pork, veal
- 2 tbs fresh parsley
- 2 tbs. fresh basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Bordeaux red wine divided
- 2 28 oz. cans Crushed Tomato
- 2 28 oz. cans Tomato Puree
- 2 cups water
- Heat vegetable oil over medium low heat in a large stock pot. Cook finely diced onions for 3 minutes or until tender then stir in sliced garlic for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add 3/4 pound of equal parts beef, pork, and veal and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper then add tomato paste. Stir the pot for a few minutes until tomato paste has been incorporated with the meat. Add 1/4 cup red wine allowing the alcohol to cook off.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, and 2 cups water. Cover loosely and simmer for 2-3 hours. Add 1/4 cup water at a time if the sauce becomes too thick and begins bubbling too much.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup red wine about a half hour before the sauce is done.
- Prep a medium bowl to collect the solids and a large bowl with a strainer and a serving spoon to collect the sauce. Add a few spoons of sauce to the strainer at a time and, in a circular motion, press it in to the bowl with the back of the spoon. Press as much liquid out of the solids as possible. Scrape out the solids and discard in to the medium bowl. Reserve for topping or filling pasta.