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Sunday Gravy

Rao's Cookbook:
Over 100 Years of
Italian Home Cooking

By Frank Pellegrino, 1998, Random House

Makes 3 quarts

1-pound piece lean beef, such as eye of round
1-pound piece lean pork, such as loin
1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages
1/2 cup fine-quality olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water
Three 35-ounces cans imported San
Marzano Italian plum tomatoes,
hand-crushed, reserving the juice
[or the best-quality Italian plum
tomatoes available to you]
Salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe Beef Braciola (recipe follows)
1 recipe Anna and Frankie’s Meatballs,
optional (recipe follows)

1. With a paper towel, pat the meat dry.
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan or deep, heavy-bottomed casserole
over medium heat. Add garlic and toss to coat.
3. Cook meat [beef and pork], a few pieces at a time, in the oil for
about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all
sides. As meat is browned, remove from pan and set aside.
When garlic cloves begin to brown, remove and discard them.
4. Combine tomato paste and water and stir into the oil. Cook, stir-
ring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the
juice, raise heat, and bring to a boil. Using one of the tomato
cans, measure 2 cans of cold water and add to the pan. Return
to a boil.
5. Return beef and pork to the sauce and add salt and pepper. Bring
to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes.
6. Lower heat and partially cover the pan. Simmer, stirring occasion-
ally, for about 2 hours or until meat is almost falling apart and
sauce is thick. If sauce becomes too thick, add water, a quarter
cup at a time.
7. One hour before sauce is ready, add Beef Braciola and sausage.
8. If using, add the Meatballs at the same time.
9. Remove meat from the sauce. Serve sauce over pasta, then meat
as a separate course.

Note: The more meat, the richer and thicker the sauce. You can add any
type of beef, pork or veal that you prefer or you can use only one type of
meat. Rolled beef, called Braciola, is one of the traditional meats used,
and many Italian cooks feel that the sausage is absolutely necessary for
great flavor.

Beef Braciola

Makes about 10 pieces

1 pound bottom round, cut into
1/4-inch-thick slices
1 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon freshly grated
Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian [flat leaf] parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fine-quality olive oil

1. Pound the meat slices thin between 2 sheets of waxed paper, using
a cleaver or the bottom of a small, heavy frying pan or have your
butcher pound the meat thin.
2. Rub each piece of meat with the cut side of the garlic.
3. Sprinkle each slice of meat with an equal amount of cheese and
parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Roll the meat up, cigar-fashion, and keep firmly closed, either
tied with butcher’s twine or skewered with toothpicks, to keep
the meat rolled while cooking.
5. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the meat rolls
and fry, turning frequently, for about 6 minutes or until meat
is evenly browned.
6. Add the Braciola to Sunday Gravy above.

Anna and Frankie’s Meatballs (Polpettini)

Makes 28

1 pound ground lean beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1/2 small garlic clove, peeled and
minced, optional [not to me!]
2 cups Bread Crumbs *
4 cups lukewarm water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fine-quality olive oil

1. Combine beef, veal and pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend Bread Crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water,
1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist.
2. Shape meat mixture into balls (we usually make large, 2 1/2- to 3-inch balls).
3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When bottom half of meatball is very brown and
slightly crisp turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on
paper towels.
4. Lower cooked meatballs into Sunday Gravy.

* Unless you make your own bread crumbs, you won’t be following Rao’s
kitchen tradition. Use the finest-quality Italian bread you can find (we've
been using Morrone from 116th Street in Manhattan for generations) and
allow it to dry for at least two days. Then grate, using a handheld grater
or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Shake and push the bread
crumbs through a medium strainer to get an even texture. And, remember,
as Aunt Anna Rao used to say,
“The better the bread, the better the crumbs.”

Featured Archive Recipes from Rao's:
Bistecca alla Pizzaiola
Pappardelle with Hot Sausage Sauce
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Veal Chop Valdostano

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